About 57 million people died in 2016. The most common causes of death were non-communicable conditions related to cardiovascular or respiratory diseases.
If we look back to the leading killers in the early 1900’s, we realise that the main reasons were communicable and infectious diseases. Nowadays, the 70 percent of the deceases worldwide are caused by non-communicable or chronic conditions. This mean that they weren’t directly transmissible from one person to another.
Nowadays the main cause is cardiovascular disease. It was responsible for one in three of all deaths. The rate of cancer fatality was twice compared to heart-related conditions, which accounted for one in sixth for every death.
Infectious diseases weren’t common cause of death in high-income regions, but it accounted for many deceases in low to middle-income countries, where cholera, HIV and tuberculosis had a significative prevalence
Preventable causes of death like diarrhoea, whose mortality wasn’t among the top 20 causes in the Americas or Europe rank, accounted almost 700,000 deaths in Africa. Cholera, which is spreading fast in Mozambique after the cyclone, is one big single killer in sub-Saharan countries. It is spread by water contaminated with faecal bacterial.
A month on from the cyclone Mozambique has already seen cases of cholera and malaria surge to 4,600 and 7,500 respectively since the cyclone hit. UNICEF pic.twitter.com/z5doKuWMXq
— alex thomson (@alextomo) 14 de abril de 2019
HIV/AIDS is no longer among the top 10 deadliest causes of death, but it was still fatal in the African region, being responsible for 720,000 deceases.
The scenario in African countries compared to the global rank or to other regions. 4 out of 5 single killers were caused by an infection or transmitted. HIV/AIDS, diarrhoeal diseases and malaria hadn’t had a mortal fate in richer countries. Access to universal health care, water contamination and malnutrition are some of the preventable reasons that raised the mortality tolls in the continent.
While infectious and transmissible diseases resulting in death were relatively rare, non-communicable and chronic conditions were the main killers in richer, Western countries.
The WHO called for policy interventions aiming to reduce the rates of non-communicable diseases. The interventions range from strategies that promote physical activity and healthy diets and also to cut on alcohol consumption and tobacco. Diabetes melitis was responsible for a 2 percent of the deaths in Europe, almost the same rate as cirrhosis of the liver. Both could substantially decrease if we shifted to healthier lifestyles.
Non-communicable diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases and diabetes, account for nearly 90 percent of the deaths.
Deaths caused by diabetes were remarkably higher in the Americas region, were 343,000 passed away. Diabetes is directly linked to overweight and malnutrition, particularly type 2, the most common one. Children obesity in the US affected to almost a 22 percent of those aged 5 to 19. The global prevalence was 6.8 percent.
Respiratory related conditions were especially fatal in South-Eastern Asia. They accounted for around 3.1 million deceases. A large population in the region has poor respiratory health due to diverse social, economic and environmental factors.
Poor air pollution is one of them. The WHO has reported that a 91 percent of the world’s population did not breath clean air. Indoor and outdoor air pollution in both cities and rural areas caused an estimated one in eight deaths in 2016.
Air pollution in South & East Asia pic.twitter.com/E1Gv4SB4U5
— Alfons López Tena #FBPE (@alfonslopeztena) 20 de noviembre de 2018
Most shocking deaths – those caused from terrorism, war and community conflicts – made up less than a 0.5 percent. Without a significant prevalence worldwide, the toll was very high in the Eastern Mediterranean. In Syria, it accounted a 44 percent of the deaths. Preterm born complications were also an important cause of death in the area.
WHO experts explain that measuring how people die assesses the effectiveness of a country’s health system and it’s an important factor to implement policies and strategies.
Many numbers of deaths had to be estimated from incomplete data.