In recent decades, advances in technology and medicine have increased the life expectancy and general health of people around the world. However, great inequalities in health and health care based on geography and wealth still exist. For example, all twenty countries with the lowest life expectancy in 2021 were in Africa, while those with the highest life expectancy were found mostly in Europe and the wealthy countries of Asia. Furthermore, the current life expectancy in the region of Africa is 64.5 years, while in Europe people can expect to live an average of 78.2 years.
What are the leading causes of death worldwide?
The global death rate has steadily decreased over the past decade but increased in the years 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2019, the global death rate was 7.47 per 1,000 population, while in 2021 it reached a rate of 8.72. In 2019, the leading causes of death worldwide were ischaemic heart disease, stroke, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). However, the leading causes of death among individual countries can be vastly different. For example, wealthier, more developed countries are more likely to report chronic diseases such as ischemic heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, and diabetes among their leading causes of death while low-income countries are more impacted by infectious diseases such as malaria, HIV/AIDs, and diarrheal diseases. Interestingly, a global survey from 2019 found that people tend to overestimate the proportion of global deaths caused by things like interpersonal violence, substance abuse, and suicide, and greatly underestimate the share of deaths caused by heart disease and cancer.
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