More often we hear 90- and 100-year-old celebrating their birthday. It is the result of the increase in life expectancy over the decades. The average life span of our ancestors in the 19th century (1801-1900) was 32-34 years. Currently, the average global life expectancy is 72.6-73.2.
The 20th century marked a rapid increase in life expectancy because of advancement in medicine and public policies which aimed at improving infant and maternal mortality rate, vaccination drives to reduce the spread of communicable diseases, providing nutrition to the masses through food programs and clean water and hygiene initiatives contributing to the longevity of humans.
Nevertheless, with the increase in overall life expectancy, the time we spend in ill health has also elevated. This affects the quality of our life span. Health adjusted life expectancy is a measure that is used to determine the average number of years a person can be expected to live in good health. It is calculated by subtracting the years of ill health from the total number of years lived.
Since 2000–2002, life expectancy has increased by more years when compared to HALE (Health adjusted life expectancy), therefore increasing the proportion of years spent in poor health. Furthermore, the healthy life expectancy of a male is lower than that of a female on an average of 2.5 years.
This comparison between life expectancy and health adjusted life expectancy indicates the health of the population and the effectiveness of policies implemented by countries to reduce the burden of diseases. Besides, it helps in predicting the future health care needs and requirements for improving the health management system.
While countries are taking efforts and allocating substantial resources to improve the health care system it is equally important for regimes to take steps to ameliorate the environment, we live in. Studies have shown that increased pollution, deforestation, overuse of fossil fuels, and excess nitrogen emission over the years have led to various lung diseases, kidney problems, and several other heart ailments affecting the health of the masses. Furthermore, the change in lifestyle habits such as excess consumption of alcohol, obesity, smoking, and physical inactivity has increased the occurrence of non-communicable diseases.
Hence it is pivotal for governments and every individual to take charge of improving the health of our environment to add life to our years instead of just adding years to our life.
The statistics have been sourced from World Health Organization (WHO).