The world is living longer but still too many premature deaths

whs2014Average global life expectancy has increased by 6 years from 1990 to 2013 and is now 73 years for females and 68 years for males. Our latest statistics report (www.who.int/gho) shows that low-income countries have made the greatest progress, with an average increase in life expectancy by 9 years from 1990 to 2012. There are still many countries with unacceptably high levels of preventable deaths from infectious diseases, maternal and childhood conditions as well as injuries and noncommunicable diseases.

World Health Statistics 2014 contains WHO’s annual compilation of health-related data for its 194 Member States, and includes a summary of the progress made towards achieving the health-related Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and associated targets. This year, it also includes highlight summaries on the ongoing commitment to end preventable maternal deaths; on the need to act now to combat rising levels of childhood obesity; on recent trends in both life expectancy and premature deaths; and on the crucial role of civil registration and vital statistics systems in national and global advancement.

Worldwide, a major shift is occurring in the causes and ages of death. In 22 countries (all in Africa), 70% or more of years of life lost (due to premature deaths) are still caused by infectious diseases and related conditions. Meanwhile, in 47 countries (mostly high-income), noncommunicable diseases and injuries cause more than 90% of years of life lost. More than 100 countries are transitioning rapidly towards a greater proportion of deaths from noncommunicable diseases and injuries.

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