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Zimbabwe life expectancy improves to 65 years

by Staff reporter
21 Sep 2022 at 05:58hrs | Views
Improved conditions and access to health care facilities has seen a huge jump in life expectancy at birth of 20 years in the last two decades to 65 years for both sexes compared to 45 in 2002, the census statistics have found.

The jump is attributed to major upgrades in health services, which includes beating back HIV.

In an interview on the sidelines of the presentation of the preliminary results of the 2022 mortality and orphanhood findings, Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency (ZimStat) director-general Mr Taguma Mahonde said the current life expectancy at birth was a reflection of improved healthcare services.

"This shows a reflection of an improved lifestyle and provision of quality healthcare services. Our health sector has improved and people are having a sustainable lifestyle. Accessibility of healthcare institutions reflects enhanced services," he said.

Mr Mahonde said females had a higher life expectancy at birth of 68 years compared to males with 61,2 years.

In 1982, life expectancy at birth in Zimbabwe was 57 years and dropped to 45 years in 2002 because of the HIV pandemic.

Mr Mahonde said average life expectancy at birth was now 64,7 years for both sexes combined with life expectancy higher in urban areas, at 65,5 than rural areas at 63.3 years," he said.

Life expectancy at birth is a general figure and does not say how long a particular person will live. Cutting infant mortality increases average life expectancy, for example. The HIV pandemic, before effective anti-retrovirus treatment was available, tended to split the population into two groups, those infected with HIV who died prematurely, often in younger adulthood, and those not infected who tended to live into old age.

A World Health Organization (WHO) assessment reported that healthy life expectancy in the African region has increased on average by 10 years per person between 2000 and 2019.

It rose from 46 years to 56 years and the rise was greater than in any other region of the world during the same period. Zimbabwe has now shown to have done better than the continental average.

Mr Mahonde said they collected data on household deaths in the past 12 months preceding the census and parental survival status for children aged 0 to 17.

He said mortality was one of the key drivers of population change along with fertility and migration.

The study of mortality, he said, was useful for analysing current demographic conditions as well as for determining the prospects of potential changes in mortality conditions in the future, public health administration, and statistics on death in the population cross-classified by age, sex and the cause of death.

He said insurance companies use statistics on deaths to craft insurance policies and the figures were also important for monitoring of regional and international obligations such as Agenda 2063 and the Sustainable Development Goals.

"A total of 121 078 deaths were reported in the last 12 months preceding the census with the crude death rate standing at 8 deaths per 1 000. Matabeleland South had 9,7 per 1 000 while Bulawayo had 9,3 per 1 000 and Matabeleland North 8,9 per 1 000.

"Neonatal rate stood at 9,5 deaths per 1 000 live births at national level. Mashonaland East had 11,1, Mashonaland Central 10,4 and Midlands had 10,2. Post-neonatal rate was 14,7 deaths per 1 000 live births at national level. Mashonaland East had 19,1 while Manicaland had 18,1," Mr Mahonde said.

He also said mortality for children under 5 years stood at 39,8 deaths per 1 000 live births in the country with Manicaland with 50,9 and Mashonaland East with 47,6.

The child mortality rate, he added, stood at 15,6 deaths per 1 000 live births in the country with Manicaland on 23,6 and Mashonaland East on 17,4.

Infant mortality rate, Mr Mahonde said, stood at 24,2 deaths per 1 000 live births in the country with Mashonaland East having 30,2 while Manicaland had 27,3.

"Rural areas had higher rates of neonatal, post-neonatal, infant mortality rate, child mortality rate and under 5 mortality rate than urban areas.

"A total of 1 589 maternal deaths were reported against 437 478 live births giving a national Maternal Mortality Ratio of 363 deaths per 100 000 live births. The rate was 425 for Midlands, 293 for Mashonaland Central and 249 for Bulawayo," he said.

Mr Mahonde said the rate was higher in rural areas with 402 deaths per 100 000 live births than in urban areas with 298 per 100 000 live births.

At the national level, lifetime risk of maternal mortality was 14,6 deaths per 1 000 women of childbearing age and it was higher in rural areas, standing at 18,6 women per 1 000 compared to an urban risk of 9,8 women per 1 000.

Mr Mahonde said 41,4 percent of the 121 078 deaths in the previous 12 months to census day were registered at national level and of the total deaths in rural areas, 34,8 percent (29 286) were registered with the Registrar General while of the total in urban areas, 56.5 percent (20 854) were registered.

"The proportion of registered deaths was higher for males in both rural and urban areas. In rural areas, 57 percent of the registered deaths were for males while in urban areas, the proportion was 55 percent.

"At the national level, 7,7 percent of children aged below 17 years were orphans. Orphanhood prevalence was higher in rural areas than urban areas. Of the 396 010 orphans in rural areas, 274 183 were paternal orphans, 71 626 maternal orphans and 50 201 were double orphans while in urban areas, out of the 153 475 orphans, 107 885 were paternal orphans, 30 151 were maternal orphans and 15 439 were double orphans."

A paternal orphan has lost their father, a maternal orphan their mother, and a double has lost both.

He said far more orphans had lost a father than a mother.

Mr Piason Mlambo, programme specialist at United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Zimbabwe said mortality was one of the key components of the population in the country.

"Critical importance on mortality data cannot be overemphasised. We would want to applaud ZimStat for coming up with mortality figures for the first time because they enhance the capacity to monitor reports.

"The results which have been presented today are credible and they are consistent with the previous researches and surveys. This is a commendable progress which the country has made on mortality ratio," he said.

Dr Mervyn Venge, reproductive health director in the Ministry of Health and Child Care echoed the same sentiments and said the results were credible.

"The results are very much commendable but we need much more information on neonatal mortality and we need to improve. We have done a great job in maternal mortality and this is a huge milestone," he said.

UNICEF Zimbabwe chief of health Dr Alex Adjagba said: "The figures have a good contribution to community development. We have been working with partners from community level and these figures are a continuity of what we have been doing."

Source - The Herald