Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

Report Finds Improved Life Expectancy Worldwide

Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

Report Finds Improved Life Expectancy Worldwide

Article excerpt

The shift reflects improvements in sanitation, medical services and access to food throughout the developing world, as well as the success of broad public health efforts like vaccine programs.

A sharp decline in deaths from malnutrition and diseases like measles and tuberculosis has caused a shift in global mortality patterns over the past 20 years, according to a new report, with far more of the world's population now living into old age and dying from diseases more associated with rich countries, like cancer and heart disease.

The shift reflects improvements in sanitation, medical services and access to food throughout the developing world, as well as the success of broad public health efforts like vaccination programs. The results are startling: infant mortality has declined by more than half between 1990 and 2010, and malnutrition, the No. 1 risk factor for death and years of life lost in 1990, has fallen to eighth risk factor.

At the same time, chronic diseases like cancer now account for about two of every three deaths worldwide, up from just over half in 1990. Eight million people died of cancer in 2010, 38 percent more than in 1990. Diabetes claimed 1.3 million lives in 2010, double the number in 1990.

Health experts from more than 300 institutions contributed to the report, which measured disease and mortality for populations in more than 180 countries. It was published Thursday in the Lancet, a British health publication.

But while developing countries made big strides -- the average age of death in Brazil and Paraguay, for example, jumped to 63 in 2010, up from 28 in 1970 -- the United States stagnated. American women registered the smallest gains in life expectancy of all high- income countries between 1990 and 2010. The slow increase caused American women to fall to 36th place in the report's global ranking of life expectancy, down from 22nd in 1990.

"It's alarming just how little progress there has been for women in the United States," said Christopher Murray, the director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, a health research organization financed by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation at the University of Washington that coordinated the report. …

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