Premature death can be reduced by 40% in 20 years!

A paper by 16 international co-authors published last Friday in the Lancet, suggests that, with sustained international efforts, the number of premature deaths could be reduced by 40% over the next two decades (2010 – 2030), halving under – 50 mortality and preventing a third of the deaths at ages 50 – 69 years.

http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736%2814%2961591-9/fulltext

201371013348353Between 2000 and 2010, child deaths fell by one-third worldwide, helped by the fourth Millennium Development Goal (MDG) to reduce child deaths by two-thirds; and premature deaths among adults fell by one-sixth, helped by MDG 5 to reduce maternal mortality and MDG 6 to fight AIDS, malaria and other diseases. According to co-author, Sir Richard Peto, if the world begins an intense effort to further eliminate preventable causes of death, including injuries, we could see a steeper decline.

My contribution to the paper was to provide the estimates of deaths by cause, age and sex for all countries of the world, as well as projections of cause-specific deaths to 2030. Moderate acceleration of the trends seen from 2000—2010 could be feasible, and good evidence of how the reduction in non-communicable disease (NCD) mortality might be achieved was identified in an earlier paper I was involved in (Kontis et al. — see post of 3 May 2014).

The UN will formulate ambitious Sustainable Development Goals for 2030, including one for health. Feasible goals with some quantifiable, measurable targets can influence governments. This paper proposes a quantitative health target, “Avoid in each country 40% of premature deaths (under-70 deaths that would be seen in the 2030 population at 2010 death rates), and improve health care at all ages”. This could be achieved in 2030 if the following subtargets were met: avoid two-thirds of child and maternal deaths; two-thirds of tuberculosis, HIV, and malaria deaths; a third of premature deaths from NCDs; and a third of those from other causes (other communicable diseases, undernutrition, and injuries). These challenging subtargets would halve under-50 deaths, avoid a third of the (mainly NCD) deaths at ages 50—69 years, and so avoid 40% of under-70 deaths.

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