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In Africa, Healthy Life Expectancy has Increased by 10 Years

According to a new WHO report, people on the African continent could expect to live an average of 56 years in good health in 2019, with a general life expectancy of just under 63 years — 10 years longer than at the turn of the millennium. No other region of the world has experienced such a significant increase in healthy life expectancy — even if Africans can still expect fewer healthy years of life on average than people from other parts of the world. The average person born in Rwanda in 2000 could expect only 41 healthy years of life. For those born in 2019, it is already 60. One of the biggest improvements is that HIV-positive people now often have easy access to antiretroviral drugs and can therefore often lead a symptom-free life. Vaccinations — against measles, for example — and better management of tropical diseases can also contribute to longer life spans. On the other hand, there are other challenges to keeping people fit and healthy in old age. Globally, the WHO calculated healthy life expectancy in 2019 to be as high as 63.7 years — so Africa remains below average.