Improving conditions lead to a considerable increase in life expectancy

the herald

Ivan Zhakata Herald Correspondent

Improved conditions and access to health care facilities have led to a dramatic increase in life expectancy at birth from 20 years over the past two decades to 65 years for both sexes from 45 in 2002 , according to census statistics.

The jump is attributed to major improvements in health services, which include the fight against HIV.

In an interview on the sidelines of the presentation of the preliminary results of the 2022 mortality and orphans findings, the Director General of the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency (ZimStat), Mr. Taguma Mahonde, said that the expectation of current life at birth was a reflection of improved health services.

“It shows a reflection of an improved lifestyle and the provision of quality health services. Our health sector has improved and people have a sustainable lifestyle. The accessibility of health facilities reflects improved services,” he said.

Mr Mahonde said women had a higher life expectancy at birth of 68 years than men with 61.2 years.

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

Mr Mahonde said the average life expectancy at birth was now 64.7 years for both sexes, combined with a higher life expectancy in urban areas, at 65.5 years, than in areas rural at 63.3,” he said.

Life expectancy at birth is a general number and does not tell how long a particular person will live. Reducing infant mortality increases average life expectancy, for example. The HIV pandemic, before effective antiretroviral therapy became available, tended to divide the population into two groups, HIV-infected people who died prematurely, often in adulthood, and uninfected people who had tendency to live to a ripe old age.

An assessment by the World Health Organization (WHO) indicated that healthy life expectancy in the African region increased by an average of 10 years per person between 2000 and 2019.

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

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

He said mortality was one of the main drivers of demographic change along with fertility and migration.

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

He said insurance companies used death statistics to craft insurance policies and the figures were also important for monitoring 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 being 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.

“The neonatal rate stood at 9.5 deaths per 1,000 live births nationwide. Mashonaland East had 11.1, Mashonaland Central 10.4 and Midlands had 10.2. The post-neonatal rate was 14.7 deaths per 1,000 live births nationwide. Mashonaland East had 19.1 while Manicaland had 18.1,” Mr Mahonde said.

He also said that under-5 mortality stood at 39.8 deaths per 1,000 live births in the country with Manicaland at 50.9 and Mashonaland East at 47.6.

The infant mortality rate, he added, stood at 15.6 deaths per 1,000 live births in the country with Manicaland at 23.6 and Mashonaland East at 17.4.

The 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, infant mortality and under-5 mortality rates than urban areas.

“A total of 1,589 maternal deaths have been 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.

Nationally, the lifetime risk of maternal mortality was 14.6 deaths per 1,000 women of reproductive age and was higher in rural areas at 18.6 women per 1,000 compared to an urban risk of 9.8 women per 1,000 women. 1,000.

Mahonde said 41.4 percent of the 121,078 deaths in the 12 months to census day were nationally recorded and that of the total number of 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 recorded deaths was higher among men in both rural and urban areas. In rural areas, 57% of recorded deaths were male, while in urban areas the proportion was 55%.

“Nationally, 7.7% of children under 17 were orphans. The prevalence of orphans was higher in rural areas than in urban areas. Of the 396,010 rural orphans, 274,183 were fatherless, 71,626 motherless and 50,201 were double orphans in urban areas, of the 153,475 orphans, 107,885 were fatherless, 30,151 were maternal orphans and 15,439 were double orphans.

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

He said many more orphans have lost a father than a mother.

Mr. Piason Mlambo, Program Specialist at the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in Zimbabwe, said mortality was one of the major components of the country’s population.

“The critical importance of mortality data cannot be overstated. We would like to applaud ZimStat for providing mortality figures for the first time, as it improves the ability to monitor reporting.

“The results that were presented today are credible and consistent with previous research and surveys. This is a commendable progress the country has made in terms of death rates,” he said.

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

“The results are very commendable, but we need a lot more information on neonatal mortality and we need to improve. We have done a great job on maternal mortality and this is an important milestone,” he said.

UNICEF Zimbabwe Chief of Health Dr Alex Adjagba said: “These figures have a good contribution to community development. We have worked with partners at the community level and these numbers are a continuation of what we have been doing.

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