Global Health Observatory (GHO)

Age standardized death rates, by country

Measuring how many people die each year and why they have died is one of the most important means –along with gauging how various diseases and injuries are affecting the living– for assessing health priorities and progress. Understanding these numbers helps health authorities determine whether they are focusing on the right kinds of public health actions at a country and regional level.

In 2004, an estimated 58.8 million deaths occurred globally. Most deaths were due to noncommunicable conditions such as heart disease and cancer, and they accounted for about 6 out of 10 deaths globally. Communicable, maternal, perinatal and nutritional conditions were responsible for just under one third of deaths, predominantly in low income countries. More than half of all deaths involved people 60 years and older, however, almost one in five deaths in the world was of a child under the age of five years.