Australian men born in 2015 are expected to survive until 81 and outlive the majority of other males in the world, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).
The new WHO report for babies born last year, released on Thursday, shows that an Australian male's life expectancy is among the highest in the world at 80.9, coming in third to top-ranked Swiss men (81.3) and males from Iceland (81.2)
Australian women will on average survive longer (84.8 years) than their male peers, the report shows. However, Australian females rank lower down on the WHO’s most recent global life expectancy scale, in seventh place.
Japanese women live longest on average (86.8 years), followed by women from Singapore (86.1) and Spain (85.5).
Australian women will on average survive longer than their male peers (84.8 years).
The average life expectancy for both male and female Australians is 82.8 years, placing us among the top four countries of the 194 WHO-member states in terms of ageing and longevity.
“Our report card is looking good,” says Ann Hunt, head of the Population Health and Primary Care Unit at the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).
“We are definitely doing well compared to the rest of the world in terms of our health.”
Hunt says that our ranking continues to uphold Australia as a lucky country, for most.
“But not all the gains we have made in life expectancy are consistent across our entire population. Our Indigenous population’s life expectancy is about 10 years less than ours.”
The report, World Health Statistics 2016, is the latest annual compilation of health statistics for the member states of the World Health Organisation and monitors progress towards the sustainable development goals.
It shows that dramatic gains in life expectancy have been made globally between 2000 and 2015, with the worldwide life expectancy increasing an average five years per person.
Children born in 2015 are expected to live, on average, until 71.4 years (73.8 for females and 69.1 for males).
However, their health and longevity will mostly depend on where they are born, with life expectancy higher in wealthier developed countries and lower in developing nations.
Newborns in 29 countries – all of them high-income – will have an average life expectancy of 80 years or more. This is compared to newborns from 22 countries – all in sub-Saharan Africa – who are not expected to survive to 60.
“The world has made great strides in reducing the needless suffering and premature deaths that arise from preventable and treatable diseases,” says Dr Margaret Chan, director-general of WHO.
“But the gains have been uneven. Supporting countries to move towards universal health coverage based on strong primary care is the best thing we can do to make sure no one is left behind.”
“The biggest threat to our health is still coronary heart disease, which accounts for about 10 per cent of all premature deaths."
AIHW's Ann Hunt adds that Australia also has a long way to go towards ensuring quality of life for all its residents and improvements in the way we tackle chronic health conditions like cardiovascular disease (CVD) and cancer.
“The biggest threat to our health is still coronary heart disease, which accounts for about 10 per cent of all premature deaths: it’s the leading cause of premature death for people who die under the age of 75.”
According to AIHW figures, over one in five Australian adults has CVD. In 2009, the risk of being diagnosed with cancer before their age 85 was one in two for males and one in three for females.
“The next biggest cause of premature death in Australia is lung cancer at nine per cent, followed by suicide at five per cent. Suicide is also the leading cause of death among young people in Australia.”