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Humans live longer, but spend more time with illness, disability’

bodypeA new analysis of all major diseases and injuries in 188 countries has shown that ischemic heart disease, lower respiratory infections and stroke top the list of global killer diseases, and that healthy life expectancy for both sexes has risen by 6.2 years between 1990 and 2013.

According to the new analysis published yesterday in The Lancet, people around the world are living longer, even in some of the poorest countries, but a complex mix of fatal and nonfatal ailments causes tremendous amount of health loss.

The researchers found that people are living longer: thanks to marked declines in death and illness caused by Human Immuno-deficiency Virus (HIV)/Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) and malaria in the past decade and significant advances made in addressing communicable, maternal, neonatal, and nutritional disorders. They found that health has improved significantly around the world.

According to the study conducted by an international consortium of researchers working on the Global Burden of Disease and led by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington, United States, global life expectancy at birth for both sexes rose by 6.2 years (from 65.3 in 1990 to 71.5 in 2013), while healthy life expectancy, or HALE, at birth rose by 5.4 years (from 56.9 in 1990 to 62.3 in 2013).

Healthy life expectancy takes into account not just mortality but also the impact of nonfatal conditions and summarizes years lived with disability and years lost due to premature mortality. The increase in healthy life expectancy has not been as dramatic as the growth of life expectancy, and as a result, people are living more years with illness and disability.

The study listed the top ten countries with highest healthy life expectancy, both sexes, 2013 as Japan, Singapore, Andorra, Iceland, Cyprus, Israel, France, Italy, South Korea, and Canada.

The countries with lowest healthy life expectancy, both sexes, 2013, were listed as Lesotho, Swaziland, Central African Republic, Guinea-Bissau, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Afghanistan, Chad, South Sudan, and Zambia.

Other leading causes of DALYs or health loss globally for both sexes, 2013, are low back and neck pain, road injuries, diarrheal diseases, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, neonatal preterm birth complications, HIV/AIDS, and malaria.

Prof. Theo Vos of IHME, the study’s lead author, said: “The world has made great progress in health, but now the challenge is to invest in finding more effective ways of preventing or treating the major causes of illness and disability.”



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