The Global Burden of Disease which is an initiative to showcase the main indicators of ill health, morbidity and mortality in individual countries, found that by 2015, the world population had gained more than a decade of life expectancy since 1980. The current statistics indicate a whooping 69 years in men and 74.8 years in women.

Among main contributors to this were significant drops in death rates for many communicable or infectious diseases, cardiovascular disease and malignancies.

The study analysed 249 causes of death, 315 diseases and injuries and 79 risk factors in 195 countries and territories between 1990 and 2015. In the last decade, there have been drastic drops in the rates of disease incidences including HIV/AIDS, malaria, and diarrhoea. The mortality rates from cardiovascular disease and cancers have also fallen, although at a slower pace.

1. 7 out of 10 deaths are now due to non-communicable diseases such as cancer, heart disease, stroke and diabetes

2. The number of annual deaths increased from 48 million in 1990 to almost 56 million in 2015. 70% of these - which is approximately 40 million - were due to non-communicable diseases.

3. In 2015, around 1.2 million deaths were observed due to HIV/AIDS (down 33.5% since 2005), and 730,500 were due to malaria (down 37% since 2005).

Over the last 2.5 decades, the main causes of health loss measured in years lived with disability (YLD) have barely changed:

1. Prior to 2015, lower back and neck pain, sensory organ disorders (including hearing loss and vision loss), depressive disorders and iron-deficiency anaemia were the leading causes of health loss.

2. In 2015, the top five causes of chronic disease (defined as conditions affecting people for 3 months or longer) each affected every one in ten people. In order of prevalence: cavities in permanent teeth, tension-type headaches, iron-deficiency anaemia , hearing loss, migraine.

3. Among 14 chronic conditions which have shown declines in the actual number of people affected include chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma, cervical cancer, and ischemic heart disease as the top 4 most significant.

People spend more years living with sicknesses and associated morbidity:

1. Despite healthy life expectancy increasing in a steadfast manner in 191 of 195 countries (by 6.1 years) between 1990 and 2015, the overall life expectancy has not increased in parallel (10.1 years), translating into people living more years but with illness and disability.

2. The consequence of ill health are measured in disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) which numbers the burden of years lost to premature death and disability has changed from communicable, maternal, neonatal, and nutritional disorders to disabling NCDs.

Progress was noted in reducing unhygienic water and sanitation, but diet, obesity and drug use are an increasing threat:

1. Hypertension, smoking, diabetes, obesity, and childhood malnutrition were the world's leading risk factors for premature death and ill health in 2015.

2. In comparison, recognizable efforts have been made in reducing exposure to some highly preventable risks such as smoking, unsafe sanitation and water, and air pollution which translated into 30,6000 fewer lives claimed in 2015 compared to 2005.

Maternal death rates reduced globally by almost a third:

1. Almost 75% (122) of countries meet the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) target in reduction of the number of women dying from maternal related causes to less than 70 for every 100000 live births by 2030.

2. The disparities between countries with the lowest and highest comes are widening, with the proportion of all maternal deaths rising from 68% in 1990 to 80% in 2015 falling in the poorest countries. In this geography, bleeding is found to be the primary cause of maternal death and where teenage pregnancy is highly prevalent.

3. In comparison, in high-income countries most maternal deaths are related to complications due to cardiovascular diseases, embolism and following complications of NCDs.

Deaths in children under the age of five have halved since 1990, but more progress needed on reducing newborn deaths:

1. The identifiable gap between countries harbouring the lowest and highest rates of child mortality is shrinking.

2. An area that needs more focus is the neonatal period of deaths which are falling more slowly than under-5 deaths and accounted for nearly half (2.6 million) of all deaths in children under 5 in 2015.

3. Preterm birth complications, asphyxia, trauma are now the 3 leading causes of deaths in children younger than 5 years worldwide, accentuating the remarkably slower progress in reducing neonatal conditions compared with communicable diseases in childhood. MIMS

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