A review of world demographic paints a grim picture of the state of affairs in developing nations. The developing world, which mostly composed of Sub-Sahara Africa nations, faces several problems including poverty, low literacy levels, poor health conditions, insecurity, dilapidated infrastructure, corruption and poor economic conditions. These problems culminate in extremely low life expectancy levels. For instance, Mason (2004) asserts that the average life expectancy of a Japanese female is about 85 years while, a girl born in Sierra Leone is only expected to live up to an average age of 35 years. The difference between the two life expectancy levels is about 50 years, an immense difference. Therefore, it is only reasonable to think of measures that can be taken to reverse the alarming trend. This research paper reviews possible solutions that can be employed in order to better the life expectancy index in developing countries.
Concept of Life Expectancy
Life expectancy can be defined as the average age that an infant of either gender is expected to live if the existing conditions at birth are to remain constant for the rest of its life. Therefore, life expectancy can be viewed as a reflection of the socio-economic conditions that prevail in a particular country. Such socio-economic conditions have a bearing on factors that define the mortality rate of the country. Such factors include health care, nutrition, famine, disease control, literacy, security and immunization.
Therefore, based on the above factors, it is possible to understand why developed nations have such a high life expectancy index. Developed nations have structured health care systems as well as proper immunization for newborns. Either, developed nations do not suffer lack of food or nutrition. In fact, World Bank report (2011) states that developed nations are fighting a totally problem, obesity and excessive consumption. In addition, it is estimated an individual in developed nations spend over per $550 per year on health in addition to proper health care services provided by the state (Mason 2004).
However, developing nations have different socio-economic conditions. Poor or lack of immunization mechanism exist. With grinding poverty and a majority of citizens living under $2 per day, the amount of expenditure barely meets survival standards. Insecurity, especially in war torn regions such as Africa and the Middle East, further exacerbates the situation. Drugs wars and organized crime in Latin America has been claiming lives at an alarming rate. HIV and Aids has also contributed to high mortally rates in developing nations causing both infant mortality and the death of adults. Other communicable diseases such as Tuberculosis and malaria claim more lives. Non-communicable diseases such as cancer and cardiovascular diseases have also played a major role in lowering the life expectancy in these nations.
One of the possible solutions to low life expectancy is tackling child mortality. According to Ajao, Awogbemi & Ewumi (2011) 40% of all deaths in developing nations are children aged below 5 years. It is estimated that 10 million children unnecessarily die every year. These deaths have been attributed to poor health conditions, lack of immunization and lack of access to clean water.
To improve on child mortality, the first step is to provide the population with clean water. Providing clean water eliminates instances of diarrhea, cholera and other water bone diseases. Secondly, governments and the international community must actively ensure that all children are immunized and live in a malaria free environment. Finally, providing stable living conditions devoid of wars allows parent to concentrate on feeding their children.
A second solution to improving low life expectancy is improving health care in developing nations. Mason (2004) argues that most developing nations have neglected health care and thus the sector is at a deplorable condition. Health care centers are poorly equipped with a skeleton staff. In addition, governments have preferred to privatize the sector due to mounting corruption in public health institutions. These issues coupled with poverty have made health care extremely expensive for the citizens and therefore prefer traditional health care methods.
For this reasons, diseases such as HIV and Aids, cancer, tuberculosis, malaria and other life threatening conditions have become the norm. Access to antiretroviral drugs for HIV patients has become extremely hard. Developing nations lack cancer care units and professionals and thus cancer is claiming hundreds of thousands of lives. Due to poor management of HIV and Aids, tuberculosis and opportunistic diseases has taken hold of the population. Resistant strains of the TB bacteria has emerged due lack of sufficient health care.
Therefore governments must address health care if low life expectancy is to be reversed. To do this, governments must invest big portions of the national budgets to health care. Providing quality first hand health care will immensely reduce mortality rates. Health care has to be structured in a manner that every citizen can access health care with relative ease. Antiretroviral drugs should be made available to HIV patients and follow up must be performed.
In conclusion, low life expectation indicates poor socio-economic conditions. Developing nations have to take concerted effort to improve child care and provide better health care for the nation. Governments should also strive to provide better socio-economic conditions for sake of the well-being of the citizenry.
Ajao, IO, Awogbemi, CA & Ewumi, TO 2011, ‘Towards achieving a robust life expectancy by the year 2020: a statistical examination of major global determining factors’, Ozean Journal of Applied Sciences 4(3), pp. 307-317.
Mason, B 2004, ‘World Health Report: Life expectancy falls in poorest countries’, International Committee of the Fourth International (ICFI). http://www.wsws.org/articles/2004/jan2004/whor-j12.shtml
World Bank 2011, ‘World Development Report 2011: Conflict, Security, and Development’, World Development Report, World Bank Publications, Washington DC.