NEW DELHI: India still accounts for the highest number of deaths of children aged below five years, data from the Global Burden of Disease-2016 report, published in the medical journal ‘Lancet’, show.
Globally, mortality rates have decreased across all age groups over the past five decades, with the largest improvements occurring among children younger than five years. In absolute terms, India recorded the largest number of under-5 deaths in 2016 at 0.9 million, followed by Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which recorded 0.7 million and 0.3 million deaths, respectively.
The data show deaths among children aged below five decreased globally to fewer than 5 million in 2016 for the first time, down from 16.4 million in 1970. Regionally, 24.8% of under-5 deaths in 2016 occurred in south Asia, 1.2 million. Overall, mortality rates declined across age groups, resulting in an increased life expectancy, the study said. The average global life expectancy for women is 75.3 years, and 69.8 years for men. Japan has the highest life expectancy (83.9 years for both sexes), and the Central African Republic the lowest (50.2).
However, with the increased life expectancy, the years lived with ill health or disability have also increased. The proportion of total life spent with ill health is higher for lower-income countries. Non-communicable diseases accounted for 72.3% of all deaths (39.5 million) in 2016. Ischaemic heart disease — decreased blood flow and oxygen to the heart muscle — was the leading cause of premature mortality in all regions, apart from in low-income countries, where the leading cause was lower respiratory infections.
Globally, ischaemic heart disease caused 9.48 million deaths in 2016 — an increase of 19% globally since 2006. Diabetes caused 1.43 million deaths, an increase of 31.1% since 2006. Overall, deaths from infectious diseases have decreased. Exceptions included dengue, which saw a significant increase at 37,800 deaths in 2016 (81.8% increase since 2006), and drug -resistant tuberculosis, which caused 10,900 deaths in 2016 (67.6% increase since 2006).