Life Expectancy in Sub-Saharan Africa Decreases; HIV/AIDS Partly To Blame, Report Says
Life expectancy in sub-Saharan Africa has decreased by an average of five years since the early 1990s, largely because countries are fighting the double burden of HIV/AIDS and other diseases, according to a report released Sunday by the World Bank in Cape Town, South Africa, Business Day/AllAfrica.com reports. The report -- which is titled "Disease and Mortality in sub-Saharan Africa" -- finds that HIV/AIDS accounts for 20.4% of all deaths on the subcontinent. The report also finds that one in six African children dies before age five from diseases that can be treated and prevented. According to the report, the HIV/AIDS epidemic has stalled or reversed successes in reducing the prevalence of communicable disease and has affected the prevention and treatment of cancer and mental and neurological disorders. World Bank representative Eduard Bos at the launch of the report at the Cape Town Book Fair said it reflects significant advancements in knowledge since the 1991 edition was published. "The potential impact of HIV/AIDS was anticipated in , but the current volume documents the depth and breadth of the burden that the epidemic is inflicting on Africa," Bos said (Ensor, Business Day/AllAfrica.com, 6/20). He added, "New sources of health and demographic information have become available as a result of unprecedented international interest in health conditions in sub-Saharan Africa." According to the report, developing countries and industrialized nations must make monitoring diseases a priority in order to achieve the U.N. Millennium Development Goals (Mahlangu, BuaNews, 6/18). According to the South African Medical Research Council, which helped to organize the report launch, not all trends seen in the report are negative. HIV prevalence has decreased in Uganda and southern Africa largely has eliminated deaths from measles (Business Day/AllAfrica.com, 6/20).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.