Africans are living longer than at any point in the last 25 years

Plenty to smile about.
Plenty to smile about.
Image: Reuters/Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah
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In a year which has seen Africa’s biggest economies falter as the rhetoric of a boom has been questioned, data from the WHO’s World Health Statistics 2016 report shows a much-needed positive: life expectancy on the continent is better than it was in 2000. While the report shows a global spike in life expectancy across the various regions, Africa has gained the most increase with life expectancy up 9.4 years between 2000 and 2015.

Africa’s improvement in life expectancy was the biggest increase recorded across all the regions. This increase, WHO says, is mainly down to the success recorded in the continent’s fight with the AIDS epidemic. After resulting in a severe decline in life expectancy on the continent in the 1990s, improved access to treatment for the virus has aided the reversal of the trend. Also attributed as a reason for the improvement in life expectancy has been the progress in malaria control and treatment. With as many as six African nations possibly getting rid of the disease by 2020 and malaria mortality rates falling by 66% across all age groups, the continent is on course to eliminate the disease faster than expected.  The continent’s progress is highlighted by another fact: of the 37 countries that have recorded a 10% increase in life expectancy, 30 are in Africa, according to World Bank data.

But despite the many positives, more needs to be done as Africa remains home to the world’s lowest life expectancy rates for both genders. Sierra Leone have the world’s lowest rate of any country for both genders and Chad, Angola and Central African Republic (C.A.R) all feature among the bottom five countries for life expectancy rates for both genders.

In general, Algeria (75.6) ranks as the country with the best life expectancy rate on the continent. Asides Algeria, Cape Verde, Morocco, Libya, Tunisia and Seychelles all have life expectancy rates higher than the global average (71.4).

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