Global life expectancy rises by six years since 1990


Life expectancy around the world is rising, according to the Global Burden of Disease Study 2013, which looked at mortality rates between 1990 and 2013.

GBD 2013 examined the number of yearly deaths due to 240 different causes in 188 countries over 23 years. It found global life expectancy rose by 5.8 years in men and 6.6 years in women.

A significant exception is in southern sub-Saharan Africa where deaths from HIV/AIDS has erased more than five years from life expectancy.

"The progress we are seeing against a variety of illnesses and injuries is good, even remarkable," said lead author Christopher Murray, Professor of Global Health at the University of Washington.

"The huge increase in collective action and funding given to the major infectious diseases such as diarrhoea, measles, tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS, and malaria has a real impact."

But he warned the study showed "some major chronic diseases have been largely neglected but are rising in importance, particularly drug disorders, liver cirrhosis, diabetes, and chronic kidney disease".

Rates of liver cancer caused by hepatitis C is up by 125%; atrial fibrillation (serious disorders of heart rhythm) have risen by 100%; and drug use disorders have increased by 63%.

At the same time in high income regions, death rates from cancers are down by 15%, while deaths from cardiovascular disease have fallen by 22%.

HIV/AIDS remains the greatest cause of premature death in 20 of 48 countries in sub-Saharan Africa.

The results of GBD 2013 have been published in The Lancet.

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