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Global health - Statistics & Facts

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 of the twenty countries with the lowest life expectancy in 2018 were located in Africa, while those with the highest life expectancy were found mostly in Europe and the wealthy countries of Asia.

According to the most recent figures, the United States spends the highest percentage of its GDP on health among OECD countries. Health spending per capita in the U.S. amounted to around 10,200 U.S. dollars in 2017, compared to 5,850 dollars in Germany and 4,800 dollars in Canada. The United States is also the country that spends the most on diabetes health expenditure, by a large margin. Although obesity is a growing problem in many countries, the United States still reports some of the highest rates around the globe. However, rates of other common health risks are much higher in other countries. For example, the smoking population of men is highest in Indonesia and Russia, while Seychelles and Uganda are the countries with the highest per capita alcohol consumption.

Just as there are inequalities in life expectancy around the globe, there also exist differences in the leading causes of death based on wealth. While the three leading causes of death in low-income countries are lower respiratory infections, diarrhoeal diseases, and heart disease, the leading causes in upper income countries are heart disease, stroke, and Alzheimer’s. Included in the leading causes of death in low income countries are also HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria, all diseases which are not included in the leading causes for upper-middle or upper income countries. In 2019, the countries with the highest incidence rate of tuberculosis were Lesotho, South Africa, and the Philippines, while Eswatini, Lesotho, and Mozambique reported the highest prevalence of new HIV infections.

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