Human life expectancy is at the highest it has ever been. We now have better access to healthcare, and better healthcare, and life expectancy is it an encouraging high. So we are living longer, but how much of that increased life is spent in good health? This infographic by Medigo illustrates the global numbers for what they call “Bad Health Years”, a number that has increased (on average) for Europe and South America.
Health Adjusted Life Expectancy (HALE)
The World Health Organization uses a metric called Health Adjusted Life Expectancy (HALE) to measure the number of years a person can expect to live in good health. If that number is reduced from the average life expectancy, we reach the (so called) Bad Health Years.
As the WHO explains its rationale behind the HALE statistic:
It is important to capture both fatal and non-fatal health outcomes in a summary measure of average levels of population health. Healthy life expectancy (HALE) at birth adds up expectation of life for different health states, adjusted for severity distribution making it sensitive to changes over time or differences between countries in the severity distribution of health states.
Bad Health Years
The infographic takes a look at the change in Bad Health Years since the year 2000. Most of the developing world has seen an increase to good health years and life expectancy, likely because of better healthcare. The developed world however, is seeing an increase in Bad Health Years, indicating that a healthier life is not quite catching up with the increased life expectancy.
The UK, for example, is seeing an average of six years increase in bad health years. These in turn, threaten to put a greater pressure on healthcare services. To quote an article published in The Guardian:
Sarah Caul, a senior health researcher at the ONS, said: “Improvements to healthcare and living healthier lives mean that as a nation, we are living longer, and newborn boys and girls can expect to live for 79 and 83 years respectively. However, while we are living longer, we are spending a smaller proportion of our overall lives in good health, which puts a greater challenge on health services.”
Infographic and Image Source: Medigo