The African nation of Lesotho has the lowest life expectancies, for both males and females, among 195 countries studied in the newly released Global Burden of Disease (GBD) report – yet there are positive trends on HIV-AIDS, as well as new health challenges.
Overall life expectancy in Lesotho is 47.1 years for a child born in 2015, despite a solid 22 percent drop in HIV-AIDS deaths since 2005, and a comparable drop in frequently related tuberculosis deaths. HIV-AIDS remains the leading cause of death in Lesotho, but other causes include a 4.3 percent rise in diabetes-related deaths, and double-digit increases in road deaths and interpersonal violence.
The new health findings published in The Lancet draw their assessments from more than 80,000 different data sources and the work of more than 1,800 collaborators across the globe.
Overall, improvements in sanitation, immunizations, indoor air quality, and nutrition demonstrate real advancements in African countries and optimism for future successes. Yet more work needs to be done, as scientists shift the way they define health and the conditions beyond wealth that support wellness.
“Development drives, but does not determine health,” said Dr. Christopher Murray, director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington in Seattle, the coordinating center for the GBD enterprise. “We see countries that have improved far faster than can be explained by income, education, or fertility. And we also continue to see countries – including the United States – that are far less healthy than they should be given their resources.”
Life expectancies in Swaziland, Central African Republic, Somalia and Guinea-Bissau also remain lower than those on the continent, and most of the world. The African nation with the highest life expectancy is Tunisia at 77.6 years, with the North African nations of Algeria, Morocco, Libya and Egypt accounting for the Top 5 highest.
Interactive tools to explore the study and data sets are available at http://www.healthdata.org/.
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