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Life expectancy in Africa grows by 10 years

People's life expectancy in Africa rose by nearly 10 years in the first two decades of this century. In the year 2000, the average African could expect to live to be 46. That rose to 56 in 2019. The World Health Organization said the rise was the best of any region in the world over the same period. However, the WHO said Africa was still considerably below the global average of 64 years. The statistics are from the WHO's State of Health in Africa report, which was issued on Thursday. It attributes the improvement to better maternal, newborn and child healthcare, advances in fighting infectious diseases (such as TB, malaria and HIV), and the easier access to essential health services.

The WHO report urged African nations to keep the momentum going to ensure life expectancy rates continue on their upward trend. It called for greater investment in health care systems so that they are better equipped to deal with the challenges ahead. These include an added strain on hospitals from a growing population, and the growth of non-communicable diseases like cancer. The WHO said there is a worrying spike in the numbers of Africans experiencing hypertension and diabetes. The WHO's Regional Director for Africa said: "The progress must not stall. Unless countries enhance measures...the health gains could be jeopardized."

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