In summary:
– Rwandans now living 31 years longer than in 1990

Life expectancy in the globe’s poorest countries has risen by an average of nine years over the past two decades, thanks to major improvements in infant health, the United Nations has said.

In its annual statistics, the UN’s World Health Organisation (WHO) said that six of the countries had even managed to raise life expectancy to over 10 years between 1990 and 2012.

«An important reason why global life expectancy has improved so much is that fewer children are dying before their fifth birthday,» WHO chief Margaret Chan said in a statement.

In 2002, life expectancy was recorded at 48.4 years for men and 53.8 for women.

The survey indicates that since then, the population has increased by 2.4 million–an average annual growth rate of 2.6 per cent.

Fifty-two percent of the 10.5 million people are women.

Releasing the report, NISR director-general Yusuf Murangwa said the improvement in life expectancy is a result of vigorous interventions over the past decade to fight against the leading causes of death in Rwanda, including malaria, tuberculosis and HIV/Aids.

“The results reflect the long-term impact of earlier interventions aimed at recovering from the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi,” Murangwa said.

“These actions resulted into better access to healthcare and improved living conditions; for instance one million Rwandans escaped from poverty between 2006 and 2011 according to EICV 2010/2011.”

Globally, average life expectancy rose by six years during the same period.

Based on global averages, a girl who was born in 2012 can expect to live to around 73 years, and a boy to the age of 68, the WHO said.

«But there is still a major rich-poor divide: people in high-income countries continue to have a much better chance of living longer than people in low-income countries,» Chan said.

A boy born in 2012 in a high-income country can expect to live to the age of around 76 — 16 years longer than a boy born in a low-income country.

For girls, the difference is even wider, with those in high-income countries likely to live to the age of 82 and those in poor nations to 63.

Female life expectancy in all the top 10 countries of the globe is 84 years or more, the WHO said.

Women in Japan enjoy the world’s best life expectancy, at 87 years, followed by Spain, Switzerland and Singapore on 85.1 years each.

Life expectancy among men, meanwhile, is 80 years or more in nine countries, with the longest in Iceland (80.2), Switzerland (80.7) and Australia (80.5).

«In high-income countries, much of the gain in life expectancy is due to success in tackling noncommunicable diseases,» said Ties Boerma, head of the WHO statistics division.

«Fewer men and women are dying before they get to their 60th birthday from heart disease and stroke. Richer countries have become better at monitoring and managing high blood pressure for example,» he added.

Declining tobacco use is also a key factor in helping people live longer in several countries, the WHO said.

Continuous efforts needed in the fight against tuberculosis (Rwanda Focus)

As Rwanda celebrated the world tuberculosis day in Nyanza district, officials called people to raise awareness on tuberculosis for better early prevention.

According to the minister of health Dr. Agnes Binagwaho, people need to commitment to early prevention and prescribed treatment, as when TB is mistreated, it can result in multi-drug resistant TB, which is much harder to cure.

Alphonse Munyentwari, governor of the Southern province, urged the population to join efforts together in the fight against TB by avoiding some common practices like sharing drinking facilities that facilitates TB contamination.

“We need to prevent all that can destabilize our community,” said Munyentwari.

In the effort to mitigate TB and other diseases, more than 450,000 health workers help to sensitize the community and follow up with patients in across the country.

At the other end of the scale, life expectancy for both men and women is still less than 55 in nine sub-Saharan African countries: Angola, Central African Republic, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ivory Coast, Lesotho, Mozambique, Nigeria and Sierra Leone.