COVID-19 pandemic reversed a decade of progress in world life expectancy

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Key takeaways:

  • World life expectancy dropped to 2012 ranges as a result of COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Noncommunicable illnesses stay prime killers.

The COVID-19 pandemic obliterated a decade of progress in world life expectancy, in accordance with the 2024 World Well being Statistics report.

“There continues to be main progress in world well being, with billions of people who find themselves having fun with higher well being, higher entry to companies, and higher safety from well being emergencies,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, MSc, PhD, WHO Director Normal, mentioned in a press launch. “However we should keep in mind how fragile progress may be.”



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The COVID-19 pandemic obliterated a decade of progress in world life expectancy, in accordance with the 2024 World Well being Statistics report. Picture: Adobe Inventory

Between 2019 and 2021, world life expectancy dropped to the extent of 2012. In these 2 years, life expectancy dropped 1.8 years to 71.4, in accordance with the report, which was launched by WHO immediately. World wholesome life expectancy additionally returned to the 2012 degree throughout this era, because it dropped 1.5 years to 61.9.

“In simply 2 years, the COVID-19 pandemic erased a decade of positive factors in life expectancy,” Tedros mentioned.

Notably, the affect has affected some locations disproportionately.

Throughout the first 2 years of the pandemic, the Western Pacific Area was minimally affected, in accordance with the report. Life expectancy dropped 0.1 yr and wholesome life expectancy dropped 0.2 yr. Nonetheless, the WHO areas for Southeast Asia and the Americas had been affected essentially the most. Between 2019 and 2021, general life expectancy dropped about 3 years and wholesome life expectancy dropped 2.5 years.

Earlier than the pandemic, noncommunicable illnesses had been the most important killers, in accordance with the report. In 2019, noncommunicable illnesses — together with Alzheimer’s illness, cancers, persistent obstructive pulmonary illness, dementia, diabetes, coronary heart illness, ischemic coronary heart illness and stroke — had been accountable for 74% of all deaths. Throughout the pandemic, these illnesses accounted for 78% of non-COVID-related deaths.

The report additionally highlighted different essential points, like well being fairness for migrants, refugees and folks with disabilities in addition to “an enormous and complicated drawback of a double burden of malnutrition, the place undernutrition coexists with chubby and weight problems.”

Greater than half a billion individuals aged 5 years and older had been underweight in 2022, whereas 1 billion had weight problems. About 37 million kids aged lower than 5 years had been chubby, in accordance with the report, however malnutrition “was additionally putting,” with 45 million being too skinny for his or her peak (losing) and 148 million being too quick for his or her age (stunting).

Moreover, about 1.3 billion individuals had incapacity in 2021 — about 16% of the worldwide inhabitants — and well being care entry for migrants and refugees was restricted. Of 84 nations surveyed between 2018 and 2021, solely half had been offering government-funded well being companies to those teams at ranges similar to their residents.

“This highlights the pressing want for well being programs to adapt and tackle the persisting inequities and altering demographic wants of world populations,” in accordance with the press launch.

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