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COVID-19 Pandemic Reverses a Decade of Progress in Global Life Expectancy: WHO Report

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Discover how the COVID-19 pandemic reversed a decade of progress in global life expectancy, according to a WHO report. Learn about the urgent need for a new pandemic agreement to protect health investments and promote global equity.

COVID-19 Pandemic Reverses a Decade of Progress in Global Life Expectancy

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a significant decline in global life expectancy, reversing almost a decade of progress, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). In a report released on Friday, the WHO revealed that global life expectancy dropped by 1.8 years between 2019 and 2021, bringing it down to 71.4 years, the same level as in 2012.

The pandemic also adversely impacted healthy life expectancy at birth (HALE), which decreased by 1.5 years to 61.9 years in 2021. WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus emphasized the gravity of this setback, stating that 'In just two years, the COVID-19 pandemic has erased a decade of progress in life expectancy.' Dr. Tedros highlighted the importance of the new pandemic agreement currently being negotiated by WHO member countries, stressing its role in bolstering global health security and safeguarding long-term health investments.

The negative impact of the pandemic was not uniform across the globe. Regions in the Americas and Southeast Asia were the hardest hit, experiencing a decline in life expectancy of about 3 years and a reduction in healthy life expectancy by 2.5 years between 2019 and 2021. Conversely, the Western Pacific region saw minimal effects, with decreases of less than 0.1 year in life expectancy and 0.2 year in healthy life expectancy over the same period.

Dr. Samira Asma, Assistant Director-General of the WHO, underscored the need for a stable environment to ensure all populations can thrive, regardless of geographical location. She stressed that the disparity in the pandemic's impact highlights the urgent need for equity within and between countries.

  • Despite significant progress in global health, the COVID-19 pandemic has shown how fragile these advancements can be. The WHO report also indicates that non-communicable diseases remain the primary cause of death worldwide, and issues such as obesity and malnutrition are on the rise.
  • Efforts to address these underlying health issues are crucial for improving life expectancy and healthy life expectancy in the long term. The pandemic has demonstrated the need for robust health systems that can withstand global health emergencies and promote health equity.
Daily Reports
Refs: | ANSA | Le Parisien |

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