People in richest countries live 23 years longer than those in poorest, finds WHO

BMJ 2011; 342 doi: (Published 17 May 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;342:d3061
  1. John Zarocostas
  1. 1Geneva

Life expectancy worldwide is edging upwards, but big gaps still exist between rich and poor countries in spending on fighting infectious and chronic diseases, says a report by the World Health Organization.

The 2011 edition of the World Health Statistics series, which tracks more than 100 health indicators worldwide, says that poor countries are lagging behind and still struggle to cut numbers of maternal and child deaths caused by infectious diseases. But these countries also face a growing epidemic of chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart diseases, and cancers.

Poor countries need “strong health systems” with more doctors, funds, and drugs to tackle this “double burden” of disease, said Ties Boerma, WHO’s director for health statistics and informatics.

Average global life expectancy at birth, the report says, rose …

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