The first-ever journal publication of country-specific cause-of-death data for 188 countries found people are living much longer worldwide than they were two decades earlier, as death rates from infectious diseases and cardiovascular disease have fallen.
Given the size of India’s population in particular, and projections that it may soon become the world’s most populous country, mortality trends there have global implications, researchers said.
In 2013, India accounted for 19 per cent, or 10.2 million, of the world’s deaths. The country has made great strides in reducing both child and adult mortality since 1990.
Between 1990 and 2013, life expectancy at birth increased from 57.3 years to 64.2 years for males and from 58.2 years to 68.5 years for females.
“It’s very encouraging that adults and children in India are living longer and healthier lives,” said Dr Jeemon Panniyammakal of the Public Health Foundation of India and a co-author of the study published in The Lancet.
“But India’s growing influence on global health means we must do more to address the diseases that kill people prematurely,” said Panniyammakal.
Researchers found the average age of death increased from 46.7 in 1990 to 59.3 in 2013.
Death rates from most cancers, including breast cancer, cervical cancer, and colon cancer, have decreased, but the reverse is true for pancreatic cancer, kidney cancer, and non-Hodgkin lymphoma, researchers found.
Reductions in cardiovascular disease, some cancers, transport injuries, and chronic respiratory conditions have led to the longevity gains in high-income regions.
In Eastern Europe and Central Asia, cirrhosis took a toll on life expectancy. HIV/AIDS was a major cause of death in Southern sub-Saharan Africa and to a smaller extent in Western and Eastern sub-Saharan Africa.