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Global life expectancy up 6.2 years between 1990-2021, shows Lancet report

In India, the life expectancy has increased by eight years in the past three decades

People, Indians, Economy

Photo: Bloomberg

Rimjhim Singh New Delhi

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On an average, people across the globe are living more than six years longer in 2021 than what they did in 1990, shows a new study published in The Lancet on Thursday. According to the study, the life expectancy in India has increased by eight years in the past three decades.

The study stated that the rise in global life expectancy is attributed to decrease in the number of deaths from diarrhoea, low respiratory infections, stroke, and ischemic heart disease, according to a report in the Hindustan Times. The paper, however, added the gains would have been far more significant "had it not been for the arrival of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020".

The study further showed that in the South Asia region, Bhutan saw the biggest gains in life expectancy (13.6 years), followed by Bangladesh (13.3), Nepal (10.4), India (8 years), and Pakistan (2.5 years).

Researchers said that the region of "Southeast Asia, East Asia, and Oceania had the largest net gain in life expectancy between 1990 and 2021 (8.3 years)" caused by a decrease in the number of deaths by chronic respiratory diseases, stroke, lower respiratory infections, and cancer. The study stated that proper management of the Covid-19 pandemic helped preserve these gains in the region.

Dr Liane Ong, co-first author of the study and a lead research scientist at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), said, "Our study presents a nuanced picture of the world's health. On one hand, we see countries' monumental achievements in preventing deaths from diarrhoea and stroke. At the same time, we see how much the Covid-19 pandemic has set us back."

Researchers said that the Covid-19 pandemic displaced a long-dominant killer – stroke – to become the second-leading cause of death globally. The label "Other pandemic-related death" took the fifth spot among the leading causes of deaths in 2021.

Global Burden of Disease Study (GBD) 2021

The Lancet report showed that the Global Burden of Disease Study (GBD) 2021 highlighted the sharp drops in deaths from enteric diseases – a class of diseases that includes diarrhoea and typhoid. These improvements increased life expectancy worldwide by 1.1 years between 1990 and 2021. Reductions in deaths from lower respiratory infections added 0.9 years to global life expectancy during this period. Progress in preventing deaths from other causes also drove up life expectancy around the world, including stroke, neonatal disorders, ischemic heart disease, and cancer. For each disease, reductions in deaths were most pronounced between 1990 and 2019.

"We already know how to save children from dying from enteric infections including diarrheal diseases, and progress in fighting this disease has been tremendous. Now, we need to focus on preventing and treating these diseases, strengthening and expanding immunization programs, and developing brand-new vaccines against E. coli, norovirus, and Shigella," said Professor Mohsen Naghavi, the study's co-first author and the director of the subnational burden of disease estimation, IHME.

Eve Wool, senior author of the study and a senior research manager, IHME, said, "The global community must ensure that the lifesaving tools that have cut deaths from ischemic heart disease, stroke, and other non-communicable diseases in most high-income countries are available to people in all countries, even where resources are limited."

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First Published: Apr 04 2024 | 11:47 AM IST

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