Life expectancy rises by 10 years in Africa

An assessment report by the World Health Organisation (WHO) has indicated that healthy life expectancy in Africa has risen by 10 years per person between 2000 and 2019.

Similarly, the report confirmed that a slight progress was recorded in other regions of the world as the assessment report also indicated global healthy life expectancy increased by only five years.

The report further explained that healthy life expectancy simply means the number of years an individual is expected to be in a good state of health, and it increased to 56 years in 2019, compared with 46 in 2000.

WHO Regional Director for Africa, Matshidiso Moeti, said improvements recorded in the provision of essential health services, gains in reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health, as well as progress in the fight against infectious diseases, rapid scale-up of HIV, tuberculosis, and malaria control measures from 2005 helped to achieve the feat.

She confirmed that on average, essential health service coverage improved to 46 per cent in 2019, compared with 24 per cent in 2000, and the most significant achievements were in preventing and treating infectious diseases, but the success was disrupted by the dramatic rise in hypertension, diabetes and other non-communicable diseases and the lack of health services targeting these diseases.

Moeti said: “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. More people are living healthier, longer lives, with fewer threats of infectious diseases and with better access to care and disease prevention services.”

She expressed fears that the health gains could be jeopardised if countries refuse to enhance measures against the threat of cancer and other non-communicable diseases.

WHO said progress in healthy life expectancy could also be undermined by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic unless robust catch-up plans are instituted, noting that, on average, African countries reported greater disruptions across essential services compared with other regions.

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