Collecting and comparing health data from across the globe is a way to describe health problems, identify trends and help decision-makers set priorities.
Studies describe the state of global health by measuring the burden of disease – the loss of health from all causes of illness and deaths worldwide. They detail the leading causes of deaths worldwide and in every region, and provide information on more than 130 diseases and injuries across the world.
Fact 1: Global average life expectancy increased by 5 years between 2000 and 2015, the fastest increase since the 1960s
Life expectancy at birth reflects the overall mortality level of a population. It summarizes the mortality pattern that prevails across all age groups in a given year – children and adolescents, adults and the elderly. Global life expectancy at birth in 2015 was 71.4 years (73.8 years for females and 69.1 years for males).
Fact 2: Globally, healthy life expectancy (HLE) at birth in 2015 was estimated at 63.1 years
The gap between life expectancy and HLE at birth – 8.3 years in 2015 – represents the equivalent healthy years lost through morbidity and disability that a newborn could expect to experience. There are substantial differences between male and female HLE in all WHO regions, with female HLE being higher.
Fact 3: In 2015, more than 16 000 children under age five died every day
Almost all of these children’s lives could be saved if they had access to simple and affordable interventions such as exclusive breastfeeding, inexpensive vaccines and medication, clean water and sanitation. Children are at a greater risk of dying before age five if they are born in poor households, rural areas, or to mothers denied basic education.
Fact 4: 45% of deaths among children under age five occur during the first four weeks of life
Prematurity, birth-related complications and neonatal sepsis were the leading causes of deaths among newborn babies in 2015. The Sustainable Development Goals specifically targets ending preventable newborn deaths by 2030, with all countries aiming to reduce neonatal mortality to at least as low as 12 per 1000 live births.
Fact 5: In 2015, an estimated 2.6 million babies were stillborn
Nearly all babies who are stillborn are not recorded in a birth or death certificate, and thus have never been registered, reported or investigated by the health system. As a result, countries often do not know the numbers of deaths or the causes of these deaths and thus are unable to take the effective and timely actions to prevent other babies from dying.