Global life expectancy could be increased by nearly five years by addressing five factors affecting health – childhood underweight, unsafe sex, alcohol use, lack of safe water, sanitation and hygiene, and high blood pressure, according to a new WHO report.
These are responsible for one-quarter of the 60 million deaths estimated to occur annually.
Global health risks describes 24 factors affecting health. These are mixture of environmental, behavioural and physiological factors, such as air pollution, tobacco use and poor nutrition.
The report also draws attention to the combined effect of multiple risk factors. Many deaths and diseases are caused by more than one risk factor and may be prevented by reducing any of the risk factors responsible for them.
Read the full press release: WHO, 27 Oct 2009
The report mentions that unsafe water, sanitation and hygiene is one of the the leading global risks for burden of disease, accounting for 4% of disability-adjusted life years (DALYs), The others are childhood underweight (6% of global DALYs), unsafe sex (5%) and alcohol use (5%) [see fig. 7].
In developing countries, unsafe water, sanitation and hygiene comes second behind childhood underweight as the highest risk for burden of disease [see tab 2.].
In the annexes of the report there are more detailed tables on health risk factors by WHO region (Africa, Southeast Asia, the Americas, Eastern Mediterranean, Europe and Western Pacific).