Kenya’s life expectancy jumps to 64 years

University of Nairobi Vice Chancellor Prof George Magoha. Photo/File

The life expectancy of a Kenyan has increased to 64 years up from 55 two years ago, a report released on Sunday shows.

The data compiled by the University of Nairobi in partnership with 12 other universities worldwide notes that the life of Kenyans has improved substantially and they can expect to live longer.

The report, State Of The Tropics, further says that Zimbabwe is the only nation in the world that recorded a decline in life expectancy at 47 years.

Madagascar reported the largest improvement in life expectancy to 65.8 years, with large reductions in infant and adult mortality rates.

“We have published today the facts and figures relating to life expectancy in the Tropics, which show significant improvements over the past 60 years. But there is still a substantial gap between the Tropics and the rest of the world,” Prof George Magoha, the Vice Chancellor of University of Nairobi, said.

The report seeks to define the challenges facing people living in the torrid zone and the efforts to improve their lives and environment.

According to the report, infant mortality in the tropics has fallen from 161 deaths per 1000 live births to 58 between 1950 and today, but in the rest of the world it is 33.

“The exception is Central and Southern Africa, where although infant mortality rates have fallen significantly, high mortality rates in the non-infant population, largely related to HIV and Aids, have constrained overall improvements in life expectancy.”

For instance, in 2008, more than half the deaths in Zimbabwe were related to HIV and Aids— the highest rate in the world, the report states.

And of the ten nations with the lowest life expectancy between 2005-10, seven are in the tropical region of Central and Southern Africa.

“In regional terms, Zimbabwe has a low infant mortality rate, but a very high adult mortality rate (the highest in the world).”

But it reveals that life expectancy in the tropics has increased by 22.8 years to 64.4 years between 1950 and 2010 and the gap between the life expectancy of women and men has widened in favour of women over the same period.

“As a general rule, regions that have experienced large falls in absolute infant mortality rate also report large improvements in life expectancy.”

Universities that took part in the research include South Pacific (Fiji), James Cook (Australia), Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine (England), Mahidol (Thailand), Singapore’s National University, Nanyang Technological University and Organisation for Tropical Studies (Costa Rican).

Others are Hub University (Denmark), University of Hawaii (USA), University of Papua New Guinea and Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas da Amazônia (Brazil).