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WHO: Life Expectancy Has Increased By 21% In Low‑Income Countries

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May 18, 2020

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Image Credit: Raminder Pal Singh/European Pressphoto Agency

The WHO released a report stating that great strides have been made in healthcare globally, which is reflected by an increase in life expectancy of people. But, Covid19 is threatening to upset this progress.

WHO’s World Health Statistics, or “an annual check-up on the world’s health,” studies the progress made by countries across the world towards attaining the Sustainable Development Goals. The report noted that the biggest leaps in life expectancy and healthy life expectancy — 21 percent — were made by low-income countries, whereas countries with higher income marked a four percent rise.

However, the WHO fears that years of progress in setting up sound infrastructure for healthcare could very quickly be undone by the Covid19 pandemic. “The good news is that people around the world are living longer and healthier lives. The bad news is the rate of progress is too slow to meet the Sustainable Development Goals and will be further thrown off track by Covid19,” Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of WHO, said.


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The WHO credited access to services that help to prevent diseases like HIV, malaria, tuberculosis and other previously neglected diseases for the increased life expectancy. Immunization coverage of infections like diptheria, tetanus and measles have also increased significantly. In addition, the nodal health agency said that improved access to better maternal and child care, with 81 percent of births attended by skilled health personnel globally, had also contributed significantly to the progress, and had almost halved child mortality rates.

In India, while the average life expectancy was pegged at 68.8 years by the report, the healthy life expectancy, or years of life spent in good health, was only 59.3. And, with the ongoing pandemic, and people struggling to access healthcare due to the country being on lockdown, this can go down even further — as the WHO warned in the report.

“The pandemic highlights the urgent need for all countries to invest in strong health systems and primary health care, as the best defense against outbreaks like Covid19… Health systems and health security are two sides of the same coin,” Tedros added. Since Covid19 has the potential undo all this progress countries have made, and throw us back in time, it is all the more imperative to direct our best efforts into controlling its spread as much as possible, and at the earliest possible.

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Written By Devrupa Rakshit

Devrupa Rakshit is an associate editor with The Swaddle. She is a lawyer by education, a poet by accident, and a painter by shaukh. She has her own podcast called #DateNightsWithD on Spotify. You can find her on Instagram @devruparakshit.

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