According to a new study, life expectancy throughout the world has increased by more than six years since 1990. Today, the average figure is 71.5 years, up from 65.3 years in 1990. Lead author of the study, Christopher Murray of University of Washington, says, “The progress we are seeing against a variety of illnesses and injuries is good, even remarkable, but we can and must do even better.”
The study was funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, published in Lancet and reported by Time. It showed fewer deaths from cancer and cardiovascular disease in developed countries with high incomes. Deaths from diarrhea and neonatal complications, major problems in the developing world, also declined. Murray attributes much of the progress to the increase in medical funding to fight infectious diseases.
Deaths from some ailments are higher. HIV/AIDS is now on the list of top 10 causes of premature death, with an increase in the number of fatalities now 2.63 million (in 2013) up from 2.07 million in 1990. That represents an increase of 344 percent in years of lost life. Because of HIV/AIDS, southern sub-Saharan Africa was the only region in the world showing a decline in life expectancy.
Hepatitis C has risen 125 percent since 1990, which has caused an increase in the number of deaths from liver cancer. Deaths from disorders associated with drug use increased 63 percent. Worldwide, deaths from injury increased by 10.7 percent from 4.3 million deaths in 1990 to 4·8 million in 2013.
Deaths from pancreatic cancer, atrial fibrillation and flutter, diabetes, chronic kidney disease, and sickle-cell anemia have all risen. Among children under five years of age, diarrhoeal diseases, lower respiratory infections, neonatal causes, and malaria are still the top five causes of death. The study shows the most dangerous pathogens are rotavirus for diarrhoea and pneumococcus for lower respiratory infections.
Overall, the general pattern of mortality shows that a larger share of deaths are now caused by non-communicable diseases and injuries. The specific information in this study lights a path for reducing deaths by showing the global medical community where money can best be allocated.