Life expectancy is growing in Uganda but the country continues to struggle with communicable diseases like HIV and malaria, as well as neonatal ailments that kill infants.
Globally, countries have saved more lives over the past decade, especially among children under age 5, but persistent health problems, such as obesity, conflict, and mental illness, comprise a “triad of troubles,” and prevent people from living long, healthy lives, according to a new scientific study.
“Life expectancy in Uganda is growing, but communicable diseases like HIV, malaria, and lower respiratory infection are still taking the lives of far too many Ugandans. Children are at particular risk, and neonatal ailments like sepsis, pre-term birth, and encephalopathy kill thousands of infants. There is still a lot of work to be done by all concerned stakeholders and players in ensuring that the health of the people of Uganda is further improved to achieve even better strides towards improving the quality of life and our life expectancy as a nation,” said Dr. Dan Kajungu, Executive Director – Makerere University Centre for Health and Population Research (MUCHAP)
This year’s version of the annual Global Burden of Diseases Study (GBD) is composed of five peer-reviewed papers, and was published today in the international medical journal The Lancet. The five papers provide in-depth analyses of life expectancy and mortality, causes of death, overall disease burden, years lived with disability, and risk factors that lead to health loss.
Global causes of death
Moreover, in 2016, for the first time in modern history, fewer than 5 million children under age 5 died in one year, as compared to 1990 when 11 million died.
Researchers attribute this global health landmark to improvements in increased educational levels of mothers, rising per capita incomes, declining levels of fertility,increased vaccination programs, mass distribution of insecticide-treated bed nets,improved water and sanitation, and a wide array of other health programs funded by development funding for health.
“Death is a powerful motivator, both for individuals and for countries, to address diseases that have been killing us at high rates,” said Dr. Christopher Murray, Director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington. “But, we’ve been much less motivated to address issues leading to illnesses. A ‘triad of troubles’ – obesity, conflict, and mental illness, including substance use disorders – poses a stubborn and persistent barrier to active and vigorous lifestyles.
Despite progress on reducing deaths, this “triad of troubles” – obesity, conflict, and mental illness, including substance use disorders – is preventing further progress.
The GBD is the largest and most comprehensive epidemiological effort to quantify health loss across places and over time. It draws on the work of over 2,500 collaborators from more than 130 countries and territories. IHME coordinates the study. This year, more than 13 billion data points are included; the papers comprise a complete edition of The Lancet.
This year’s GBD improves upon the previous annual update through new data, improvements in methodology, and a measure for tracking completeness of vital registration information.
In addition, the top conditions in 2016 that made people sick, but were not necessarily fatal were: low back pain, migraine headaches, hearing loss, iron-deficiency anemia, and major depressive disorders.