The covid-19 pandemic caused almost 337 million years of life lost globally, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimated this Friday, warning of the stagnation of several health indicators in recent years.
“During 2020 and 2021, COVID-19 resulted in a staggering 336.8 million life years lost globally. average of 22 years of life lost for each excess deathabruptly and tragically interrupting the lives of millions of people”, said the organization.
The WHO today published the annual statistics report that updates the pandemic’s impact on global health, demonstrating a “decline” in progress made pre-COVID-19 on the global development goals (SDGs).
WHO excess mortality estimates indicate that the actual number of deaths directly or indirectly associated with the pandemic between 1 January 2020 and 31 December 2021 was approximately 14.9 million worldwide.
This figure represents 9.5 million more deaths than the 5.4 million deaths initially reported during that period, the Geneva-based organization said.
According to the most recent WHO data, since the beginning of the pandemic until Wednesday, more than 766 million cases of infection with the virus that causes covid-19 have been confirmed and around 6.9 million deaths have been recorded.
The report also warns that the proportion of deaths caused annually by non-communicable diseases (NCDs), such as chronic cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, cancer and diabetes, “has been growing consistently and is now claiming almost three quarters of all lives lost each year “.
If this trend continues, WHO data estimate that these diseases “will be responsible for about 86% of the 90 million annual deaths by mid-century”, accounting for about 77 million deaths.
The document also adds that the most recent trends show “signs of slowing down” in the objectives of annual reduction in several health indicators, such as the global maternal mortality rate, which needs to decrease by 11.6% a year until 2030 to meet the SDG target.
“Likewise, the net reduction in tuberculosis incidence from 2015 to 2021 was only one-fifth of the way to the 2025 milestone” defined in the WHO’s disease eradication strategy.
Alcohol consumption worldwide declined slightly between 2010 and 2019, with men continuing to consume about three times more than women, says the report, which shows more optimistic data in relation to tobacco.
“Tobacco consumption has declined more sharply: around 22% of the world’s population aged 15 or over consumed tobacco in 2020, against almost 33% in 2000”, indicates the organization.
WHO also estimates that the number of adults aged 30 to 79 with hypertension has nearly doubled to 1.28 billion between 1990 and 2019, mainly due to population growth and aging.
“Safely managed drinking water services were accessible to around three-quarters (74%) of the world’s population in 2020. However, this translated into two billion people still lacking access” to this resource in a way safe, indicates the document.
“Achieving universal access to safely managed water, sanitation and basic hygiene services by 2030 will require a fourfold increase in current rates of progress” in this area, according to the WHO, which classifies as “alarming” the obesity levels, which have been rising “with no immediate sign of reversal”.
Despite the stagnation of some indicators, people continue to live longer and more years in good health.
Global life expectancy at birth increased from 66.8 years in 2000 to 73.3 years in 2019 and healthy life expectancy increased from 58.3 years to 63.7 years, says the WHO, which warns, however, that “health inequalities continue to have a disproportionate impact on life and health in contexts with fewer resources”.