World Bulletin/News Desk
The number of people aged 60 and above will outnumber children younger than five by 2020, a leading medical journal said Thursday.
According to The Lancet, the world's population aged 60 and above is expected to reach two billion by 2050, up from the current 841 million. The report added that 80 percent of these older people would be living in low and middle-income countries.
Although people are now living longer, they are not healthier than before, the report said.
About a quarter of the overall global burden of death and illness is in people aged over 60, it noted.
The report also warned that the growing burden of chronic diseases would greatly affect the quality of life among older people unless health systems find effective strategies to address the problems faced by an ageing world population.
"The challenge is not just increasing the life spans, but also increasing the health spans of older people because a large majority of these people live in low and middle-income countries," a World Health Organization expert said.
Addressing a press conference at the UN's Geneva headquarters Wednesday, Somnath Chatterji recommended health systems in low and middle-income countries to be prepared and plan the upcoming change in the population structure.
Life expectancy is the highest in Europe, Asia and the Americas, while it is still less than 55 years in sub-Saharan African countries, according to the WHO.
Women in Japan have the longest life expectancy at 87 years, followed by Spain, Switzerland and Singapore. Life expectancy among men is 80 years or more in nine countries, with the longest male life expectancy in Iceland, Switzerland and Australia.
Low-income countries have made the greatest progress, with an average increase in life expectancy by nine years from 1990 to 2012, the WHO said in its annual statistics report.
Life expectancy increased the most in Liberia which saw a 20-year increase from 42 years in 1990 to 62 years in 2012, followed by Ethiopia from 45 to 64 years, Maldives from 58 to 77 years, Cambodia from 54 to 72 years, Timor-Leste from 50 to 66 years and Rwanda from 48 to 65 years.
Last Mod: 06 Kasım 2014, 09:54