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WHO: Healthy Life Expectancy Might be Increased by 5-10 Years

Worldwide, healthy life expectancy can be increased by 5-10 years if governments and individuals make combined efforts against the major health risks in each region, the World Health Organization (WHO) says in its new yearly report.

The World Health Report 2002 - Preventing Risks, Promoting Healthy Life - breaks new ground by identifying some major principal global risks to disease, disability and death in the world today, quantifying their actual impact from region to region, and then providing examples of cost-effective ways to reduce those risks, applicable even in poor countries.

The report finds that the top 10 globally preventable risks are: childhood and maternal underweight; unsafe sex; high blood pressure; tobacco; alcohol; unsafe water, sanitation and hygiene; high cholesterol; indoor smoke from solid fuels; iron deficiency and overweight/obesity. Together, they account for about 40 per cent of the 56 million deaths that occur worldwide annually and one-third of global loss of healthy life years.

WHO warns that the “cost of inaction is serious.” If all of these preventable risks could be addressed as WHO recommends (which WHO acknowledges is a highly ambitious goal), healthy life spans could increase as much as 16 plus years in parts of Africa. Even in the richer developing countries, such as Europe, the United States, Australia, New Zealand and Japan, healthy life spans would increase by about five years., Source: WHO


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