Global life expectancy stands at 72 years: Lancet

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Washington, Oct 7 (IANS) Globally, life expectancy increased from about 62 years to nearly 72 from 1980 to 2015, thanks to improvements in sanitation, immunisations, indoor air quality and nutrition in poor countries, and several nations in sub-Saharan Africa rebounding from high death rates due to HIV/AIDS, says a new report.

However, such progress is threatened by increasing numbers of people suffering serious health challenges related to obesity, high blood sugar, and alcohol and drug abuse, said the Global Burden of Disease 2015 study published in The Lancet.

The study analysed 249 causes of death, 315 diseases and injuries, and 79 risk factors in 195 countries and territories between 1990 and 2015. 

The progress in India, however, has not been very impressive, according to the report.

All countries in the South Asian region did much worse than expected at reducing deaths in children under five, with India recording the largest number of under-five deaths of any country in 2015, at 1.3 million.

Globally, 5.8 million children under age five died in 2015, representing a 52 per cent decline in the number of under-five deaths since 1990. 

"Over the past 25 years, there have been important and impressive gains in the number of children surviving past their fifth birthdays, a significant milestone," said one of the study authors Haidong Wang, Associate Professor at Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington in Seattle.

"Regrettably, many nations -- especially those low on the Socio-demographic Index -- have not made such gains and need to hasten the pace of progress, including availability of cost-effective vaccines, expanded access to clean water, and other interventions," Wang noted.

The study draws on the work of more than 1,800 collaborators in over 120 countries.

Bangladesh has improved maternal survival much faster than expected, while India and Nepal fared poorly.

Most countries in the South Asian region -- including India and Pakistan -- did better than expected at reducing health loss from stroke and lower respiratory infections. India also performed much worse than expected on tuberculosis, the report said.

The number of maternal deaths globally dropped by roughly 29 per cent since 1990, and the ratio of maternal deaths fell 30 per cent, from 282 per 100,000 live births in 1990 to 196 in 2015.

Between 2005 and 2015, death rates from HIV/AIDS decreased 42 per cent, malaria 43 per cent, preterm birth complications 30 per cent, and maternal disorders 29 per cent, according to the study.

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