Health

Cut premature deaths globally by 40% by 2030, experts suggest

Premature deaths can be cut by 40 per cent in all countries by 2030, says an international team of researchers.

World life expectancy is now just over 70 years

Premature deaths

8 years ago
Duration 2:17
The number of premature deaths could be reduced by 40% over the next 20 years, researchers say

Premature deaths can be cut by 40 per cent in all countries by 2030, says an international team of researchers.

The news comes as the UN prepares its next set of development goals.

For example, between 2000 and 2010, child deaths fell by one-third worldwide, Richard Peto, professor of medical statistics at the University of Oxford, UK, and his co-authors said in Friday’s issue of The Lancet.

Two-thirds of the reduction in childhood deaths was credited to vaccination against diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, polio, and measles.

In old age, death is inevitable but death before old age is not.- Authors of new study

"In old age, death is inevitable but death before old age is not," the researchers concluded. "World life expectancy is now just over 70 years, and most deaths before that age are avoidable."

The Millennium Development Goals for 2015 aimed to reduce under-5 mortality by two-thirds from 1990 to 2015 and to reduce maternal mortality by three-quarters. Those goals won’t be met, but both child and maternal mortality have been nearly halved, the researchers said.

The new targets come goals as the UN General Assembly meets this month to discuss 17 Sustainable Development Goals for 2016 to 2030.

Goals set for all countries

To reinforce the goal, the researchers suggest the following targets:

  • Two-thirds reduction in child and maternal deaths.
  • Two-thirds reduction in tuberculosis, HIV and malaria deaths.
  • And a reduction in a third of premature deaths from injuries and "non-communicable diseases" — chronic diseases such as cardiovascular diseases (like heart attacks and stroke), cancer, chronic obstructed pulmonary disease and diabetes.

Quitting smoking was the most important factor in the World Health Organization’s target of a 25 per cent reduction from 2010 to 2015 in non-communicable disease mortality for those aged ages 30 to 69, they said. Others included targeting dangerous patterns of alcohol consumption and halting the rise in obesity.

Overall, the changes could be achieved by 2030 or soon afterwards, at least in areas free of war, other major political disruptions or a major new epidemic, the authors said.

In a commentary that accompanies the research, Sir George Alleyne, director emeritus of the Pan American Health Organization in Washington, said the major advance in the paper lies in setting targets based on a rigorous analysis of mortality trends by age and disease category.

The researchers recommended that countries adapt the targets to their own circumstances, including those with low under-50 mortality, such as Mexico. They gave examples of how Mexico and Ethiopia achieved progress in reducing mortality rates at different ages, for instance by expanding health facilities and increasing the numbers of healthcare workers including midwives, doctors and pharmacists.

The study was funded by the UK Medical Research Council, Norwegian Agency for Development Co-operation, University of Toronto Centre for Global Health Research, and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

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