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Affluence and a lack of health care in the US are proving deadly, a major survey has found.
The study, by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington, also showed that global inequality in adult mortality has grown to the point where adult men in Swaziland — the country with the worst mortality rate — now have a probability of premature death that is nine times the mortality rate of the best country, Cyprus.
The lowest mortality risks overall are recorded in Iceland, which has a risk of premature death for males of 65 per 1,000, and in Cyprus, where the risk for females is 38 per 1,000.
The study shows the gap in mortality rates between men and women is growing globally, with women’s health improving faster than men’s.
In the 40 years between 1970 and 2010, adult mortality fell by 34 percent in women and 19 percent in men globally. The gap between adult male and female mortality widened by 27 percent in that period.
The prevention of premature adult death is just as important for global health policy as the improvement of child survival, its authors said.
Yet, while the prospects of child survival have improved markedly due to campaigns in the 1980s and 1990s, little attention has been paid to adult mortality rates.
“However, adult mortality has received little policy attention, resources or monitoring efforts,” the study said.
One of the authors of the study, the University of Washington’s Christopher Murray said while maternal and child mortality rates had seen major progress since 1970, this was not the case in adult mortality rates.
“We are seeing this massive spread between the best and the worst off,” Murray said.
The researchers point to a range of factors for the widening disparities. AIDS sharply reversed positive trends in mortality in the 1990s in Africa. Increased incomes in some countries appear to be increasing the prevalence of risk factors for disease, such as high blood pressure and obesity. Smoking also continues to play a large role throughout the world.
Alan Lopez, head of the School of Population Health at the University of Queensland and one of the paper’s co-authors, said “we have been remarkably ignorant around adult mortality.”
“We need to apply the same passion that surrounds keeping children alive to keeping young adults alive,” Lopez said.
Other key findings include:
Top 10 countries in adult death prevention:
2. South Korea