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Global Life Expectancy Up by Six Years Since 1990

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The bad news is that millions of people still die every year from an assortment of diseases and conditions. The good news is that despite all that, the global population is actually living longer, logging six more years compared to population in 1990.

Researchers analyzed the Global Burden of Disease 2013 study and found that while life expectancy has grown in almost every part of the world, the region of southern sub-Saharan Africa is the complete opposite, taking away five years from life expectancy ever since 1990. The results of analysis were published in the medical journal The Lancet.

"The progress we are seeing against a variety of illnesses and injuries is good -- even remarkable -- but we can and must do even better," said Christopher Murray, a global health professor from the University of Washington, adding that bigger efforts and funding towards addressing potentially deadly and infectious diseases like malaria, HIV, tuberculosis and measles have had a real effect on bringing fatality rates down and improving life expectancy.

Unfortunately, some chronic diseases have been ignored, making way for their prevalence in threatening life. These include kidney disease, diabetes, liver cirrhosis and drug disorders.

Remarkably, some poorer countries are showing exceptional improvements in life expectancy over the 23-year period of the GBD study, with residents of Iran, East Timor, Maldives, Niger, Ethiopia, Rwanda and Nepal living 12 years more on average.

India too is showing progress, registering nearly seven additional years in life expectancy for men and more than 10 years for women from 1990 to 2013. Panniyammakal Jeemon, a co-author for the study, however also said that to leverage the country's growing influence on the world's health, more will have to be done to take care of diseases that claim lives prematurely.

Child deaths have also dropped dramatically over the course of 23 years but respiratory infections, diarrhea and malaria still remain three of the top five causes of deaths in children below five years old in the world. Each year, these top five diseases claim the lives of nearly two million children aged one month to four years and 9 months.

In adults, HIV/AIDS is still the foremost cause of premature deaths in 20 of the 48 countries located in Africa's sub-Saharan region.

"People today are less likely than their parents to die from certain conditions, but there are more people of older ages throughout the world," explained Murray, reiterating the importance of the right health policies in addressing health challenges to come.

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