Life expectancy is growing

We take a look at the latest health statistics from the World Health Organisation on life expectancy and what it means for us Australians.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) recently released its annual publication of health statistics. According to the report, global life expectancy for those who entered the world in 2015 has risen to 71 years. This means that on average, children born in 2015 will live 5 years longer than those born in 2000. However once we look past the global average, the numbers vary greatly by region and population.

The worldwide gender disparity persists: women continue to live longer than men (about 5 years on average). The gap has in fact increased marginally since 1990. The reason for this is not fully understood. A 2014 study suggests that this may partly be because some men lose the genetic material of their Y sex chromosome in some cells (e.g. blood cells) in older age, and this may have a connection to shorter life expectancy. 

Closer to home, the life expectancy of both Australian women (85 years) and men (81 years) continues to be in the top 10 in the world. However, for Australia's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, the situation is very different. It is estimated that on average, the life expectancy of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men and women is shorter than non-Indigenous Australians (10 and 9 years shorter respectively). The gap is even greater in First Peoples living in the Northern Territory.
aboriginal elder body resized
The 'Closing the Gap' program (which began in 2009) has made some progress in addressing this. Between 2005-7 and 2010-12, the life expectancy for Indigenous Australians rose by 1.6 years for men, and 0.6 years for women. 
 
Still, serious health challenges remain for Australia’s First Peoples. For example, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are 6 times more likely to die due to diabetes, and 3 times more like to die due to cardiovascular disease, compared with non-Indigenous people.
 
Managing Director of Bupa Australia and New Zealand, Dean Holden, said Bupa was looking forward to using its broad health and care expertise to improve the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

“I am passionate about the possibility of Bupa helping drive real and measurable improvements in health outcomes to close the gap for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples,” he said.
 
“I look forward to ensuring that our activity delivers meaningful opportunities for both our people and the wider community to foster greater appreciation for our rich Indigenous history.”
 
Once such way Bupa is doing this is through our partnership with Moonshine Movies to shine the light on Rheumatic Heart Disease with the documentary Take Heart.
Although you may not have heard of Rheumatic Heart Disease (RHD), it’s a killer in this country, particularly among Australia’s First Peoples. In fact, Australia has one of the highest rates of RHD in the world. And the worst thing? Almost every case of RHD is preventable if caught and treated early.

We can all help raise awareness of RHD by taking the time to learn about the disease and sharing the Take Heart story within our own communities.
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