Living longer, not better

THE average global life expectancy may be an unprecedented 65 years and still climbing, but according to the annual report of the World Health Organisation (WHO), people are not living healthier lives. Over the next half-decade:lone, life expectancy will increase by another four months, thanks to improved water supply and campaigns against infant mortality together with increased spending on health, but the number of sick and diseased people around the world is also on the increase.

In the last decade, the death rate per 1,000 of population has fallen from 10.8 to 9.5, but billions are still at risk from serious illnesses. In fact, of the 50 million people who die annually, 46.5 million are killed by disease.

What's more, the WHO report has shown a dramatc North-South gap in terms of health. In the poorest countries, life expectancy is as low as 50 years, 26 years short of the average for the industrialised nations.