Most of the high income, developed countries in the world have been able to bring down the death rates through non-communicable diseases, while many low income countries still struggle to do so (Source: Freepik)

According to a  study published in The Lancet on Thursday, the average global life expectancy has increased by over 6.2 years between 1990 and 2021. 

A research team led by Simon Hay from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington attributed this increase over the last twenty years to various factors including a reduction in fatalities caused by diarrhoea, lower respiratory infections, diabetes, kidney diseases, stroke and ischemic heart disease.

Commenting on the same, Dr Jagadish J Hiremath, medical director and chairman, Aasra Hospitals, Bangalore, said: "The study's findings underline the impact of targeted healthcare interventions and the importance of access to quality healthcare in improving life expectancy. It's clear that diseases that once claimed millions of lives yearly can be managed effectively with the right strategies, leading to substantial increases in life expectancy."

The report highlighted that the Covid-19 pandemic caused a decline in the previously rising trend of life expectancy. “After more than three decades of consistent improvements in global life expectancy and declining age-standardised death rates, COVID-19 reversed long-standing progress and disrupted trends in the epidemiological transition. As the second leading cause of age-standardised deaths in 2021, COVID-19 had a pronounced influence on the reduction in global life expectancy that occurred,” it mentioned.

The reduction of mortality from diarrhoeal diseases played a key role in boosting life expectancy, especially in South Asia, where the super region saw a substantial cumulative increase of 7.8 years, ranking second among all super regions. Bhutan saw a significant increase with life expectancy up by 13.6 years, followed by Bangladesh at 13.3 years, Nepal at 10.4 years, India at 8 years. and Pakistan at 2.5 years. 

The reduction of mortality from diarrhoeal diseases played a pivotal role in boosting life expectancy notably in South Asia (Source: Freepik)

Additionally, Eastern sub-Saharan Africa experienced the most remarkable surge in life expectancy, with a gain of 10.7 years, surpassing all other local regions.However, according to estimates, the study says, deaths from malaria are becoming increasingly concentrated and are now particularly concentrated within western sub-Saharan Africa, with an additional corridor running through central Africa and into Mozambique. 

However, out of all the super regions, the researchers found that Latin America and the Caribbean and sub-Saharan Africa were the most affected by Covid-19 pandemic, as they lost several years of life-expectancy at that time. 

Dr. Liane Ong of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluations, one of the authors of the study said in a statement, “On one hand, we see countries’ monumental achievements in preventing deaths from diarrhoea and stroke. At the same time, we see how much the Covid-19 pandemic has set us back.”

Authors of the study also point towards the disparity in certain countries being able to successfully weed out deadly diseases. Most of the high income, developed countries in the world have been able to bring down the death rates through non-communicable diseases, while many low income countries still struggle to do so. 

Looking towards the future, particularly for India, Dr Hiremath says that the path to further improving life expectancy and eradicating deadly diseases lies in strengthening health systems. Enhancing access to quality healthcare and prioritising public health interventions that address both communicable and non-communicable diseases are needed. "Ensuring equitable access to healthcare advancements and focusing on preventive measures will be crucial in mitigating the impacts of future health crises and continuing the upward trajectory of life expectancy," he stresses.

The authors make similar remarks, “Ultimately, the extent of mortality concentration reflects both the progress achieved in health-care advancements and the shortcomings that persist in their equitable implementation. Disease concentration is evidence that there are effective interventions and policies that have successfully reduced disease burden in many locations, but these innovations have not been equitably distributed throughout the world or have been ineffective at addressing the specific challenges certain populations face."

As we navigate the complexities of global health in the post-pandemic world, Dr Hiremath agrees, the findings from this Lancet study serve as both a reminder of how far we have come and a call to action to address the disparities that persist. "The future of global health, and particularly in regions like India, will depend on our ability to learn from these challenges, adapt our strategies, and renew our commitment to health equity and access for all," he concludes.

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2024-04-04T15:35:04Z dg43tfdfdgfd