How COVID-19 eliminated a decade of progress in the global level of life experience

2024 05 27T100733Z 1 LYNXMPEK4Q085 RTROPTP 4 HEALTH WHO scaled
Director-General of the World Health Organisation (WHO) Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus attends the World Health Assembly at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, May 27, 2024. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

After several years of the outbreak of COVID-19, the world is still faced with the consequences of the pandemic that claimed the lives of many.

A new report on the annual compilation of health and health-related indicators by the World Health Statistics disclosed that in just two years, the epidemic has wiped out almost 10 years of advancement in improving life expectancy.

“Between 2019 and 2021, global life expectancy dropped by 1.8 years to 71.4 years (back to the level of 2012). Similarly, global healthy life expectancy dropped by 1.5 years to 61.9 years in 2021 (back to the level of 2012),” the report stated.

With a roughly 3-year decline in life expectancy and a 2.5-year decline in healthy life expectancy between 2019 and 2021, the WHO regions for the Americas and South-East Asia were severely hit. On the other hand, during the first two years of the pandemic, the Western Pacific Region experienced negligible effects, losing less than 0.1 years of life expectancy and 0.2 years of healthy life expectancy.

Nonetheless, WHO Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said with billions of people enjoying improved health, better access to services, and better protection from medical emergencies, global health continues to make significant progress.

He, however, cautioned that “But we must remember how fragile progress can be. In just two years, the COVID-19 pandemic erased a decade of gains in life expectancy. That’s why the new Pandemic Agreement is so important: not only to strengthen global health security, but to protect long-term investments in health and promote equity within and between countries.”

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