Life Expectancy Still Rising

Life Expectancy Still Rising

Since 2000, the improvements in maternal and child health, decline of infectious diseases and a lowered risk of premature deaths from NCDs and injuries increased life expectancy across the world, said the World Health Organisation (WHO).

“Together, these advances have contributed to an increase in global life expectancy from 67 years in 2000, to 73 years in 2019,” said the WHO. It said this in its latest World Health Statistics check-up covering data up to 2022.

However, the pandemic has put many health-related indicators further off-track and contributed to inequalities in access to high-quality healthcare, routine immunizations and financial protection. As a result, improving trends in malaria and TB have been reversed, and fewer people were treated for neglected tropical diseases (NTDs), the WHO said.


In the statistics, the WHO mentions that early childbearing poses increased health risks to adolescent mothers, as well as hampering their access to education. Maternal conditions are a leading cause of death among adolescent girls globally, the UN agency said.

Adolescent birth rates have been declining since 2000 globally, but the progress has been slow and uneven. Globally in 2022 there were on average 41.9 births per 1000 adolescent girls aged 15–19 years, down from 64.6 births per 1000 adolescent girls aged 15–19 years in 2000. Adolescent birth rates among younger adolescent girls (aged 10–14 years) more than halved from 3.3 births per 1000 girls in 2000 to 1.5 births per 1000 girls in 2022. European and Western Pacific regions continued to have the lowest adolescent birth rates in both age groups since 2000. South-East Asia Region experienced the steepest decline in adolescent birth rates – from levels 40% higher than the global rate in 2000 in both age groups, to almost one-third (35%) of the global level among younger adolescent girls and 60% of the global level among older adolescent girls in 2022.


The WHO emphasised the importance to prevent unintended pregnancies to avoid maternal deaths. All women, including adolescents, need access to contraception, safe abortion services to the full extent of the law, and quality post-abortion care, it said.

 All women need access to high-quality care in pregnancy and during and after childbirth. It is particularly important that all pregnant women receive adequate antenatal care, and that skilled health professionals attend all births. To improve maternal health, barriers that limit access to quality maternal health services must be identified and addressed at both health system and societal levels.


Global life expectancy has grown by 50 per cent since the birth of the UN World Health Organization (WHO) 75 years ago, the UN Secretary-General António Guterres said. However, he noted that “progress is in peril” in the wake of COVID, climate change, and other challenges.

“Global life expectancy – up over 50 percent; Infant mortality – down sixty percent in 30 years; smallpox – eradicated; And polio on the verge of extinction.But progress is in peril. War and conflict threaten millions. The health of billions is endangered by the climate crisis,” he said.

He said COVID-19 had stalled and even reversed, the steady improvements in public health, and led to backsliding on the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

‘We can return to the path of progress’

“But this is not inevitable”, he continued. We can return to the path of progress. We can realize our ambitions for health and wellbeing for all. But only if the world works together. If we cooperate, despite the tensions straining relations between nations.”

Guterres said promoting public health long-term, meant strengthening the independence, authority and financing of the WHOThis stood at the heart of our international effort and must have a key coordinating role in fighting the next pandemic, he added.

As international negotiations continue for a new pandemic plan of action, “it is vital to prepare for the health threats to come – from new pandemics to climate dangers – so that we prevent where we can, and respond fast and effectively where we cannot”, the UN chief said.

Meanwhile, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesussaid the painful lessons of the pandemic must be understood.  Chief among those lessons is that we can only face shared threats with a shared response.”

Similar to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, the pandemic accord under negotiation, “must be a historic agreement to make a paradigm shift in global health security, recognising that our fates are interwoven”, he added.

“This is the moment for us to write a new chapter in global health history, together; to chart a new path forward, together; to make the world safer for our children and grandchildren, together.


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