Tropics Life Expectancy Lower Than The Rest Of The World
November 20, 2012

Life Expectancy In The Tropics Improving, Still Below The Rest Of The World

Michael Harper for — Your Universe Online

A global effort has been put forth to better understand the specific challenges and issues associated to living in the tropical regions of the world. This effort, carried out by 13 research institutions all over the world, has resulted in a report titled “The State of the Tropics.” In this report, these institutions measure the life expectancy of those who live in these tropical regions.

Professor George Magoha, Vice Chancellor of the University of Nairobi – one of the institutions involved in this report – gave an early insight into these findings, speaking specifically on tropical life expectancy.

“We have published today the facts and figures relating to life expectancy in the Tropics which show significant improvements over the past 60 years,” said Magoha in a press statement.

“But there is still a substantial gap between the Tropics and the rest of the world.”

All told, the State of the Tropics found that those living in the tropical regions of the world had an average life expectancy of 64.4 years, 7.7 years shorter than the rest of the world.

While the expected life expectancy in the tropics has increased by nearly 23 years since 1950, it´s still lower than the rest of the world.

The report also shows that the gap between the life expectancy of men and women has continued to widen. Now, women are expected to outlive men in these areas.

Though the tropical regions have also seen a significant improvement in infant deaths, they also fall behind the rest of the world. According to the latest report, infancy mortality rate is down from 161 deaths in every 1,000 to 58. The infancy mortality rate is currently 33 per every 1,000 for the rest of the world, and according to the report, this rate has been improving at a much faster rate than that of the tropics.

When infancy mortality rates drop, suggests the report, the average life expectancy in adults usually improves.

The State of the Tropics also holds that the two areas with the worst adult mortality rates are Central and Southern Africa. Of those who make it to age 15, 377 of every 1,000 will die before age 60.

This adult mortality rate is 240 per 1,000 in other tropical areas, and an even lower 154 in the rest of the world.

This report points to conflict, disease, lack of food and poverty as reasons for such high mortality rates. While the area has seen some significant improvement over the last 50 years, the 13 institutions responsible for the report suggest a continued investment in education, health and other social services to continue improving these mortality rates.

The sooner the better, says Professor Sandra Harding, the Vice Chancellor of Australia´s James Cook University.

Over the past 50 years, the tropics have become a very critical region. Currently, more than 40% of the world´s population live in the tropics and, according to the research, more than 50% are expected to live in these regions by 2050.

“The idea of the tropics has geopolitical, economic and strategic importance - and this importance will be plain as a result of the full State of the Tropics report. Sooner or later, we will have to take this seriously,” Professor Harding said.