Kenyans beat neighbours in the race of life

Kenya has made big strides in improving the life expectancy of its citizens, who are poised to outlive their East African neighbours except Rwandese by 2040, a new global demographic report says.

The report published in the international medical journal Lancet last week says Kenyans are expected to live for 73.9 years by the year 2040.

This will be a significant improvement from the average life expectancy of 66.9 years in 2016 that placed the country 146th among 195 nations.

“Kenya could rise to a rank of 134 in 2040 with an average life expectancy of 73.9 years, an increase of seven years. Kenya’s life expectancy could increase by as much as 11.1 years in a better health scenario or decrease by 0.7 year in a worse health scenario,” the report says.

Using data from the 2016 Global Burden of Disease study, which examined data and estimates from 1990 to 2016, researchers at the University of Washington in Seattle generated predictions from 2017 to 2040 for the 195 countries.

“Whether we see significant progress or stagnation depends on how well or poorly health systems address key health drivers,” the director of data science at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) and lead author of the study, Kyle Foreman, said, adding that the future of the world’s health is not pre-ordained, and that there is a wide range of plausible trajectories.

Mr Foreman said understanding potential trajectories in health and drivers of health was crucial to guiding long-term investments and policy implementation.

The study predicts that non-communicable diseases will be the major cause of death for East Africans going forward.

Average Life expectancy 2016  – Average Life Expectancy in 2040

It cites the five biggest drivers of health in the region as high blood pressure, high body mass index, high blood sugar, tobacco and alcohol use and predicts that more non-communicable diseases, such as heart disease and cancer, will continue to replace infectious diseases as causes of death.

Rwanda, the outlier in the region, beats Kenya with an average life expectancy of 67.8 years in 2016, ranked 139 among 195 nations.

However, if recent health trends continue, it could rise to a rank of 124 in 2040 with an average life expectancy of 74.8 years, an increase of seven years. Tanzania, which had an average life expectancy of 64.3 years in 2016, and ranked 163 among 195 nations, comes in third in East Africa while Uganda with an average life expectancy of 62.2 years in 2016, is ranked 172.

The study predicts that if recent health trends in Uganda continue, the country could climb to a rank of 168 by 2040 with an average life expectancy of 69.5 years, an increase of 7.3 years.

Uganda’s life expectancy could, however, increase by as much as 10.6 years in a “better health scenario” or decrease by as much as 0.1 years in a “worse health scenario.”

Tanzania is tipped to rise to a rank of 151 in 2040 with an average life expectancy of 72.3 years, an increase of eight years.

Source  – Business Daily

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