HEALTH: How we live and die

IRIN – Wednesday, 19 Decmeber 2012 (originally published 14 Dec)

Potrait of an aging woman. Photo: David Longstreath/IRIN
Live long and prosper — in some places

LONDON, 14 December 2012 (IRIN) – We all know we are going to die, but how and when it happens depends largely on who we are and where we live. We think we know the major risks – perhaps malaria or AIDS-related diseases in Africa, or stroke, cancer and heart disease in North America and Western Europe. But, in fact, patterns of mortality and morbidity are rapidly changing around the world.

This was the revelation of more than five years of data collection and analysis, which culminated in the recent publication of the Global Burden of Disease Study 2010. Led by the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), the study involved 486 authors from 50 countries.

The study reveals that people can expect to live longer – in some cases, dramatically longer. Overall life expectancy worldwide has increased by more than a decade since 1970. The Indian Ocean island nation of Maldives has shown the most striking improvement: a woman there in the 1970s lived on average to 51; now the average lifespan increased by three decades . . .

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