Covid pandemic led to average loss of more than 22 years of life, WHO report says
Covid-19 ‘turned the clock back in key global health areas’, says World Health Organisation
Covid has turned the clock back on world health and each death related to the pandemic has led to an average loss of more than 22 years of life, according to a new report.
The World Health Organisation said the pandemic resulted in 336.8 million Covid-related deaths globally.
Each death caused an estimated 22 years loss of life on average or more than five years of life lost every second.
The WHO’s World Health Statistics report – an annual check-up on health – said that since 2000 “we saw significant improvements” in maternal and child health, with deaths falling by one-third and one-half.
“The incidence of infectious diseases such as HIV, TB and malaria also declined, along with a lowered risk of premature deaths from noncommunicable diseases and injuries.
“Together, these contributed to an increase in global life expectancy from 67 years in 2000 to 73 years in 2019.”
However, the pandemic has put many health-related indicators further off-track and contributed to inequalities in access to high-quality healthcare, routine immunisations and financial protection.
As a result, improving trends in malaria and TB have been reversed, and fewer people were treated for neglected tropical diseases.
Covid-related deaths in Ireland have reached 8,935 so far and, while 265 patients with the virus were in hospitals here yesterday, the number in intensive care is down to six from 15 two weeks ago.
The full extent of the impact of the pandemic on missed cancers and delayed diagnoses has yet to become clear, but it is known disruption to health services in the early part of the pandemic disrupted care.
The report underscores a stagnation of progress on key health indicators in recent years compared with trends seen during 2000-2015.
It also warns of the growing threat of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) and climate change, and calls for a coordinated, strengthened response.
The share of deaths caused annually by NCDs has grown consistently and is now claiming nearly three-quarters of all lives lost each year.
The major NCD risks are alcohol consumption, tobacco use, obesity and hypertension.
If this trend continues, NCDs are projected to account for about 86pc of the 90 million annual deaths by the middle of this century, with 77 million of these due to NCDs – a nearly 90pc increase in absolute numbers since 2019.
However, despite the pandemic upheaval, HIV infections and HIV-related deaths continued to fall. In 2021, there were 1.5 million new HIV infections globally – a decline of 32pc compared to 2010.
Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO director-general, said: “The report sends a stark message on the threat of noncommunicable diseases, which take an immense and increasing toll on lives, livelihoods, health systems, communities, economies and societies.”