World health report

Global life expectancy reaches new heights but 21 million face premature death this year, warns WHO

Snapshots of the future

In a series of snapshots of the future, the report predicts that by the year 2025:

  • In industrialized countries, heart disease, stroke and cancer will remain the leading causes of death. As deaths from heart disease and stroke decline, deaths from some cancers will increase.
  • In developing countries, these noncommunicable diseases will become more prevalent, largely due to the adoption of "western" lifestyles and their accompanying risk factors - smoking, highfat diet, and lack of exercise. But infectious diseases will still be a major burden, none more so than HIV/AIDS and possibly tuberculosis.
  • The population will reach 8 billion compared to 5.8 billion in 1997. Although women will be having fewer babies - an average of 2.3 compared to 2.9 in 1995 and 5.0 in 1955 - the world will never have been so densely populated; however the under 20 population will be only 32% of the total compared to 40% now.
  • Fewer babies and small children will die from infectious diseases and malnutrition - but there will still be about 5 million deaths a year in children under 5.
  • More people will be living longer. About 800 million people - one in 10 - will be over 65. Four out of 10 people dying in 2025 will be 75 or over.
  • More people will live in cities than ever before. About 59% will live in urban areas and only 41% in rural areas. In 1995 the ratio was 55% rural and 45% urban. In 1955, 68% of the global population was rural.