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Africans Are Living Longer; Stats Say


Musa Pabai holds his son Oliver for the first time after surviving Ebola, at his home in Walakor, February 19, 2015

According to new statistics provided by a World Health Organization (WHO) assessment report, life expectancy in Africa has risen by almost ten years.

WHO reports that Africans are living healthier and longer in the African region. The global health authority says that healthy life expectancy in Africa has increased on average by 10 years per person between 2000 and 2019.

The Tracking Universal Health Coverage in the WHO African Region shows that healthy life expectancy or the number of years an individual is having a healthy life has increased to “56 years in 2019, compared to 46 in 2000”.

The most significant achievements were in preventing and treating infectious diseases, but this was offset by the dramatic rise in hypertension, diabetes and other noncommunicable diseases and the lack of health services targeting these diseases, the report notes.

WHO Regional Director for Africa Matshidiso Moeti says that the remarkable rise in healthy life expectancy dates to Africa’s work on improving individuals’ health.

“The sharp rise in healthy life expectancy during the past two decades is a testament to the region’s drive for improved health and well-being of the population. At its core, it means that more people are living healthier, longer lives, with fewer threats of infectious diseases and with better access to care and disease prevention services.”

Progress in healthy life expectancy could also be undermined by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic unless robust catch-up plans are instituted.

Moeti adds that Efforts must be made to restore essential services affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“COVID-19 has shown how investing in health is critical to a country’s security. The better Africa can cope with pandemics and other health threats, the more our people and economies thrive. I urge governments to invest in health and be ready to tackle head on the next pathogen to come bearing down on us.”

According to WHO, the global healthy life expectancy of 64 years in individuals, increased by only five years.

The United Nations says that the sharp rise during the past two decades is a testament to the region’s drive for improved health and well-being of the population.

Many factors have helped to extend healthy life expectancy such as the improvements in reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health, as well as the progress in the fight against infectious diseases, including rapid scale-up of HIV, tuberculosis, and malaria.

On average, essential health service coverage improved globally to 46% in 2019 up from 24% in 2000.

The report reveals that the most significant achievements were in preventing and treating infectious diseases, but this was offset by the dramatic rise in hypertension, diabetes and other non-communicable diseases and the lack of health services targeting these diseases.

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