Life expectancy up by five years since 2000: WHO

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Geneva, May 19 (IANS) Dramatic gains in life expectancy have been made globally since 2000, but major inequalities persist within and among countries, according to a new report published by World Health Organisation (WHO).

The report, titled "World Health Statistics 2016: Monitoring Health for the SDGs", noted that life expectancy increased by five years between 2000 and 2015 -- the fastest increase since the 1960s, Xinhua news agency reported.

The biggest increase came from WHO African Region, where life expectancy increased by 9.4 years to 60 years, driven mainly by improvements in child survival, malaria control and expanded access to antiretrovirals for treatment of HIV.

"The world has made great strides in reducing the needless suffering and premature deaths that arise from preventable and treatable diseases," said Margaret Chan, Director-General of WHO.

"But the gains have been uneven. Supporting countries to move towards universal health coverage based on strong primary care is the best thing we can do to make sure no-one is left behind," Chan said.

Global life expectancy for children born in 2015 was 71.4 years (73.8 years for females and 69.1 years for males), but an individual child's outlook depends on where he or she is born.

The report showed that newborns in 29 high-income countries have an average life expectancy of 80 years or more, while newborns in 22 countries in sub-Saharan Africa have life expectancy of less than 60 years.

In China, the life expectancy reaches 76.1 years (77.6 years for females and 74.6 years for males).

With an average lifespan of 86.8 years, women in Japan can expect to live the longest. 

Switzerland enjoys the longest average survival for men, at 81.3 years. People in Sierra Leone have the world's lowest life-expectancy for both genders: 50.8 years for women and 49.3 years for men.

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