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State of health in the Asia-Pacific region - statistics & facts

As a region made up of more than 40 countries, accounting for over half of the global population, it is not surprising that Asia-Pacific possesses a number of differing health systems. Thus, resulting from numerous healthcare structures are varied states of health among the citizens of the Asia-Pacific region. Some countries across the region are renown for glowing public health services. Japan, Australia, and New Zealand all rank among the leading Asia-Pacific countries in terms of their healthcare, with health expenditure amounting to significant shares of the countries’ GDPs. People are living longer, and with that comes the demand for improved healthcare and subsequently, better health statuses. Yet, with diverse healthcare systems and funds available, there exists differing levels of progress in tackling certain diseases which have disturbed the region for years.

Along with various health statuses, average life expectancy ranges across the Asia-Pacific region. Hong Kong, Japan, and Singapore all exhibit some of the world’s highest life expectancies. However, Myanmar and Laos fall behind in terms of average life expectancies at birth, with Myanmar’s average life expectancy being as much as 16 years lower than Singapore. Despite the significant variations between countries, average life expectancies have been increasing throughout the region.

Although, communicable diseases such as malaria (diseases spread from one person to another, airborne disease, or diseases spread through an insect bite) are still a problem in the Asia-Pacific region, the number of malaria cases has greatly reduced over the past ten years. With one of the biggest populations in the world, 2017 saw India record the highest number of malaria cases throughout the Asia-Pacific region. As malaria has also always posed a huge threat in the Southeast Asian region, governments of the region devised plans to eradicate the disease by 2030. Other life threatening communicable diseases which are prevalent throughout the region include HIV and tuberculosis. However, recently tuberculosis has become more manageable with high vaccination rates against tuberculosis among children. Despite one disease becoming more controlled, there is still a high number of people living with HIV in the Asia-Pacific region. This has resulted in a high number of deaths due to AIDS.

Despite some countries in the Asia-Pacific region possessing more advanced healthcare systems than others, the global outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19) shook the Asia-Pacific region as a whole to its core. The number of cases soared throughout the pandemic, with India, Indonesia, and the Philippines recording some of the highest case numbers in the region. Meanwhile, Brunei, Singapore, and China were among the countries with the highest share of population with at least one COVID-19 vaccine as of January 2022.

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