New Delhi: The number of premature deaths, or deaths before the age of 70, could be reduced by 40% by 2030, reducing mortality among those aged under 50 by 50% and preventing a third of the deaths at ages between 50 and 69 years, according to a report published in The Lancet on Thursday.
The report suggests that the reductions in premature death rates achieved after chasing Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) can be reduced further with expanded international efforts against a wider range of causes.
This study comes a week ahead of the United Nations General Assembly in New York where 17 Sustainable Development Goals for 2016–2030 will be discussed to replace the MDGs that expire at the end of 2015. The new UN health goal is “Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages”.
In India, if the 2010 death rate continued, in 2030 there would be 9.3 million premature deaths—the most in the world. Out of these, 1.5 million deaths would occur among those aged below 5 years, 2.7 million at 5-49 years, and 5.1 million at 50-69 years.
“Death in old age is inevitable, but death before old age is not”, said co-author Richard Peto, professor of medical statistics at the University of Oxford, UK. “In all major countries, except where the effects of HIV or political disturbances predominated, the risk of premature death has been decreasing in recent decades, and it will fall even faster over the next few decades if the new UN Sustainable Development Goals get the big causes of death taken even more seriously,” he added.
At the 2000-2010 rate of progress, deaths in India before age 70 years would fall by 31% by 2030, missing the 40% fall target. The study has hence suggested that more progress is needed in reducing child mortality, tuberculosis, malaria and deaths from chronic diseases.
“Based on realistically moderate improvements in current trends, our proposed targets are a two-thirds reduction in child and maternal deaths and in HIV, tuberculosis, and malaria, and a one-third reduction in deaths from non-communicable diseases and injuries. For this, we are going to need improved healthcare, intensified international efforts to control communicable diseases, and more effective prevention and treatment of non-communicable diseases and injuries,” said lead author Ole Norheim, professor of global public health at the University of Bergen, Norway.
The study has been funded by UK Medical Research Council, Norwegian Agency for Developmental Cooperation, Centre for Global Health Research, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.