Most South African babies born this year won't see the 22nd century – here's why

Business Insider SA
Photo: Gallo images/ Getty images
  • Judging from current average life expectancies, babies in more than 20 countries across the world will live to greet 2100.
  • The average South African newborn in 2019 probably won't live that long given serious health challenges in the country.
  • Local life expectancy is lower than many other African countries, including Malawi and Rwanda.

With an average life expectancy of 63.6 years, most South African babies born this year probably won’t live to see the next century.

But according to data from the World Health Organisation, children in more than twenty other countries will most likely have exactly that privilege.

The average Japanese newborn, given that country’s average life expectancy of longer than 84 years, could easily see in the year 2100. Other countries who have a longer life expectancy than the necessary 81 years include Singapore, France, Germany, Greece and Australia.

While the average life expectancy in South Africa is longer than Nigeria (55.2 years), other Africans live longer. The Congo (64.3), Malawi (64.2), Kenya (66.7) and Rwanda (68.0) all have greater average lifespans.

In India, life expectancy is more than five years longer than in South Africa, while in Brazil the average lifespan is 75.1 years.

According to the World Health Organisation’s World Health Statistics 2018 report, South Africa has one of the highest rates of universal health coverage on the continent, with 97% of births attended by skilled health personnel.

But the report shows that TB, HIV, and other diseases are taking a massive toll on the country’s health:

Tuberculosis incidence (per 100,000 population), 2016

(World Health Organisation)

New HIV infections (per 1,000 uninfected population), 2016

(World Health Organisation)

Probability of dying from any of cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, or chronic respiratory disease between age 30 and exact age 70 (%), 2016

(World Health Organisation)

In addition, the probability of dying a violent death in South Africa remains staggeringly high:              

Mortality rate due to homicides (per 100,000 population), 2016

(World Health Organisation)

But while the South African homicide rate is out of whack on the continent, it's in line with some homicide mortality rates in South America:

(World Health Organisation)

Despite all these challenges, the report shows that the South African suicide mortality rate  - 11.6 out of 100,000 people - is much lower than in many rich countries:

Suicide mortality rate (per 100,000 population), 2016

(World Health Organisation)

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