Study Says Life Expectancy Has Increased by 5 Years in the Less than Two Decades

A baby born in 2015 now has a life expectancy of 71 for females and 69 for males, according to a report by the World Health Organization (WHO).

The UN health agency noted that global life expectancy has increased by approximately five years in the last 15 years. Since the 1960s, this is considered the fastest increase with the biggest rise in Africa. WHO believes that rise is brought about by improvement in health care for kids as well as better availability of medicines particularly for AIDS and malaria.


While women in Japan (86.8 years)  and men in Switzerland (81.3 years) had the highest life expectancy, both males (49.3 years) and females (50.8 years) in Sierra Leone typically live the shortest.

Newborn babies in 29 high income countries have an average life expectancy of 80 years or more, while those in 22 countries in sub-Sahara Africa have life expectancy of less than 60 years.

Dr. Margaret Chan, WHO’s Director-General said: “The world has made great strides in reducing the needless suffering and premature deaths that arise from preventable and treatable diseases.”

While Chan said the figures show “great strides” in worldwide health, the increases in life expectancy have also been uneven.

“Supporting countries to move towards universal health coverage based on strong primary care is the best thing we can do to make sure no-one is left behind,” Chan added.

Based on the ‘World Health Statistics 2016’, which contain data from 194 countries,  it was also found that cardiovascular disease remains the biggest worldwide cause of premature death, which accounts for 37% of cases. Other leading causes include cancer accounting for 27% of the cases, other non-communicable disease responsible for 23%, as well as respiratory diseases (8%) and diabetes (4%).