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Skip to 0 minutes and 5 seconds Again, let’s start off on the global level. One of the best proxies for progress in health is life expectancy. And the reasoning is very simple. In those countries where health and health access and health care is good, people tend to live longer. In those countries where access to health care is inferior, people don’t live all that long. So looking at life expectancy as a proxy of the effectiveness and the efficiency of health care, we find, generally speaking, all over the world but from different levels, life expectancy is improving. In fact, as the years go by, we expect to find that in the more developed countries life expectancy could reach 80,85, 90. By the end of the century maybe even 100.

Skip to 0 minutes and 52 seconds In less developed countries– that includes Africa– life expectancy is still on the low side. Rising, but still on the low side. Back in the late ’80s and early ’90s, many African countries experienced a decline in life expectancy on the back of the then HIV/AIDS epidemic. In South Africa, we find that life expectancy is improving, for reasons mentioned a bit earlier. But still barely in the mi mid-‘50s, a as opposed to the early ’80s, late ’70s in many other developed countries. We also find that the reasons for death are changing. Globally, roughly seven out of every 10 deaths are due to chronic diseases. In Africa, however, and other low-income countries, the majority of death are due to communicable diseases.

Skip to 1 minute and 47 seconds This will probably change. As lifestyle changes in Africa, as Africa becomes relatively more affluent, we’re also bound to find that lifestyle becomes a major reason for death. Other realities in Africa, of course, in the field of health, includes well-known diseases such as the obvious one, HIV/AIDS. But we add to that a long, long list. Malaria, TB, dengue fever, Ebola virus, yellow fever. In fact, something like water, or lack thereof, is a major cause of death in Africa. The combination of insufficient water, dirty water, contaminated water, and waterborne diseases accounts for more deaths in Africa than anything else, especially among younger children. In South Africa, the contribution of communicable diseases such as HIV/AIDS and TB is high.

Skip to 2 minutes and 49 seconds But non-communicable as causes of death are rising rapidly amongst all population groups. A couple of years ago it was discovered that the single most important cause of death in South Africa is TB. It accounts for almost 10% of all causes of deaths. That was followed by influenza, pneumonia, about 5 and 1/2%, and then cerebral vascular diseases, about 5% And again, as I said earlier, we find the change of lifestyle, different eating habits, smoking, lack of exercise, that these kinds of contributions are going to become very more important. We also know that South Africa has one of the worst TB epidemics in the world, especially in KwaZulu-Natal, the Western Cape, Northwest Province, and the Northern Cape.

Skip to 3 minutes and 44 seconds HIV/AIDS, as we all know, has been a major source of concern and discussion for more than 30 years. We also know that sub-Saharan Africa bears the brunt of the HIV/AID epidemic. Roughly two-thirds of the world’s HIV population is to be found in sub-Saharan Africa. It’s not surprising, really. Roughly two-thirds of global AIDS-related deaths occur in sub-Saharan Africa. The slightly good news is that thanks to better access to more effective anti-retroviral therapy, we’re reaching the point where more and more people might indeed be HIV positive, but not necessarily contract fully blown AIDS. In other words, if you’re on treatment, we might find more and more people will lead fairly normal lives.

Skip to 4 minutes and 34 seconds It’s also worthwhile pointing out that, roughly speaking, South Africa has about six million people with HIV/AIDS. That’s almost one quarter of the sub-Saharan Africa total, and almost one sixth of the world’s HIV total. We are indeed, in terms of numbers, the epicenter of the epidemic.

Health trends

One of the best proxy’s for progress and health is the increase in life expectancy.

Most countries where health access and health care is good, people tend to live longer. In those countries where access to health care is inferior, life expectancy is shorter. We’ll explore these trends in this video.

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Futurism and Business: Dealing with Complexity

University of Stellenbosch Business School Executive Development