People are living longer, but violent deaths are on the rise

Conflict, terrorism and gun violence are claiming more lives around the world now than a decade ago, according to a new study published Thursday in the health journal The Lancet.

Deaths caused by war and terrorism spiked after 2006, with 150,500 reported in 2016 — a 143% increase from 10 years earlier. These fatalities occurred largely as a result of conflicts in North Africa and the Middle East, the researchers noted.

Worldwide, gun deaths also climbed during the same period: In 2016, firearm suicide fatalities reached 67,500 and firearm assault casualties rose to 161,000, increases of 4.3% and 5.7%, respectively, from 2006.

Guns may be the direct cause of more deaths, but the there was an overall 3% decrease in fatalities caused by self-harm during the decade ending in 2016, the study indicated.

The Global Burden of Disease study, an annual assessment of health trends, provides worldwide and national estimates on more than 330 diseases, causes of death and injuries in 195 countries and territories.

The study, coordinated by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington in Seattle, requires assistance from more than 2,500 researchers around the globe.

One of several sunny spots in the report: Worldwide, people are living longer.

Life expectancy on the rise

Generally, male life expectancy was lower than female from 1970 through 2016. Currently, the average global life expectancy for women is 75.3 years, while men can expect to see 69.8 years on the planet. Life expectancy for both sexes combined is 72.5 years.
By contrast, global life expectancy combined was 58.4 years in 1970 and 65.1 in 1990. In 2000, the combined expectancy was 66.8 years, and in 2005, it was 68.4 years.
Of all the nations, Japan boasts the highest life expectancy at 83.9 years (a combined figure for both sexes), while people living in the Central African Republic can expect only 50.2 years, a global low.
Several countries have seen recent large increases in life expectancy, far beyond expectations for their levels of development.
These countries include Ethiopia, where life expectancy in 2016 was 64.7 years for men and 66.5 for women; the Maldives (77.6 years for men and 81.3 years for women); Nepal (69.7 years for men and 71.9 years for women); Niger (60.6 years for men and 62.8 years for women); Portugal (77.8 years for men and 84.0 years for women); and Peru (77.8 years for men and 81.6 years for women).
These “exemplar” nations may offer insight into which policies are most successful for accelerating health progress, the study authors noted.

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