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The Patient is Showing Improvement, But…

Key Report Highlights Overall Global Health Progress, Areas of Concern


In the introduction to its World Health Statistics Report 2023, the World Health Organization (WHO) cites key global health improvement statistics for the new millennium—as well as rising areas of concern—as they pertain to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).


Global Health Progress
  1. Global life expectancy rose from 67 years to 73 years from 2000 to 2019.

  2. However, according to the WHO, 99% of humanity breathes “unhealthy levels” of fine particulate matter.

  3. The percentage of annual deaths caused by non-communicable diseases (NCDs), such as cancer, has risen to 75% and is expected to reach 88% by 2048 “if the trend continues.”

  4. Globally, the greatest declines in deaths from NCDs between 2000 and 2019 were from chronic respiratory disease (down 37%), cardiovascular disease (down 27%), and cancer (down 16%). Deaths from diabetes, however, rose by 3% during the same period.

  5. Men have a greater chance of premature death from NCDs worldwide than women.

  6. Major behavioral risk factors for NCDs include alcohol abuse, tobacco use, physical inactivity, and an unhealthy diet.

  7. Top metabolic risk factors for NCDs include elevated blood pressure, being overweight/obese, hyperglycemia (elevated blood glucose levels), and hyperlipidemia (elevated levels of fat in the blood).

  8. UN SDGs seek reductions of the global maternal mortality ratio to below 70 maternal deaths for every 100,000 live births by 2030. Between 2000 and 2015, the global maternal mortality ratio fell by a third, from 339 deaths per 100,000 live births to 227 deaths per 100,000 live births.

  9. Global neonatal mortality rates were 18 per 1,000 live births in 2021, down by 43% from 31 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2000.

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