Life expectancy in SA ‘can increase by 6.9 years by 2040’

Life expectancy in SA ‘can increase by 6.9 years by 2040’

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In a worst-case health scenario it can decrease by as much as 8.1 years, a study predicts.

If recent health trends continue, South Africa’s life expectancy could move up to 169th out of 195 nations by 2040, according to a survey by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME).

This would represent an increase of an average 6.9 years, bringing it up to 69.3 years.

The IHME is an independent health research institute based at the University of Washington in the US, which provides rigorous and comparable measurement of the world’s health problems.

Their work helps policymakers adopt informed health decisions.

South Africa’s life expectancy, the study notes, could increase by as much as 12.9 years in a better health scenario, or decrease by as much as 8.1 years in a worst-case health scenario.

The study, published yesterday in the The Lancet medical journal, also projects an increase in deaths from noncommunicable diseases – diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, chronic kidney disease, and lung cancer.

In 2016, the top 10 causes of premature death in SA were HIV/ Aids, lower respiratory infections, road injuries, interpersonal violence, TB, diabetes, ischemic heart disease, diarrheal diseases, stroke, and neonatal preterm birth complications.

In 2040, however, the leading causes are expected to be diabetes, road injuries, lower respiratory infections, HIV/Aids, interpersonal violence, ischemic heart disease, tuberculosis, chronic kidney disease, stroke, and diarrheal diseases.

The top five health drivers for premature mortality are high blood pressure, high body mass index, high blood sugar, tobacco, and alcohol use.


The countries with the highest life expectancies currently: 

  • 1. Japan with an expectancy of 83.7;
  • 2. Switzerland at 83.3;
  • 3. Singapore at 83.3;
  • 4. Spain at 82.9;
  • 5. Australia at 82.5.

The lowest-ranked countries are: 

  • 1. Central African Republic with an expectancy of 50.1 years;
  • 2. Lesotho at 50.4;
  • 3. Somalia at 57.2;
  • 4. Swaziland at 57.6; and
  • 5. Afghanistan at 57.9.

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