Rising Life Expectancy in Africa: What Does It Mean?

Fredrick Ngugi April 28, 2016
Photo: blogs.ntm.org

A recent study by World Health Organization (WHO) shows a steady increase in life expectancy in Africa. According to the study, life expectancy in Africa was 50 years in 2000 and has since risen to 58 years as at 2013.

Another report published by Financial Times of UK shows life expectancy in Africa growing exponentially, which is a marked contrast from the 1990s when life expectancy dropped sharply in a vast majority of African countries.

Reasons for the Dramatic Increase

According to Financial Times of the UK, the exponential growth in life expectancy in Africa is as a result of the availability of anti-retro viral drugs that are readily accessible to low-income HIV patients, which has significantly lengthened their lives. HIV patients in Africa are now able to work and raise their families.

Advanced medical technologies have also played a significant role in preventing HIV transmission from mother to child, further reducing HIV-related deaths.

Cheaper generic drugs to cure killer diseases such as malaria have improved longevity and rapidly reduced infant mortality.

What to Expect

For both individuals and the society, longevity is something to be celebrated as most people want to live longer and enjoy a good life. With prolonged life expectancy, people are able to spend time with their families and to achieve their dreams.

Because most people spend their lifetime working and taking care of their families, it’s only fair for them to have some time to enjoy their old age.

While it’s a good thing to have higher life expectancy in Africa, there are concerns that the continent might become overcrowded. Statisticians argue that prolonged lifespan will cause economic inactivity by older workers, which will ultimately lead to an economic disaster across Africa.

According to the United Nations, the world’s population is expected to grow by 2.5 billion people over the next 40 years. The UN further estimates that a vast portion of population growth will be experienced in less developed countries. Ultimately, this could lead to overpopulated slums and urban centers across the continent, thus worsening the problem of improved sanitation.

With higher life expectancy in Africa, governments must brace themselves for the double burden of taking care of senior citizens with chronic illnesses and increasing rates of infectious diseases.

There’s also going to be increased cost of health care as older people will require special medical attention, which requires specialized health workers and advanced medical technologies.

Last Edited by:Deidre Gantt Updated: April 28, 2016


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