Premature deaths could be reduced by 40 percent

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The number of premature deaths worldwide could be reduced by 40 percent by 2030 with political commitment and sustained international efforts, according to a new study in The Lancet. The study suggests that half of all deaths under age 50 and a third of deaths between ages 50-69 could be prevented, largely by accelerating efforts to reduce child deaths and maternal mortality and to fight AIDS, malaria, and other diseases.

“Based on realistically moderate improvements in current trends, our proposed targets are a two-thirds reduction in child and maternal deaths and in HIV, tuberculosis, and malaria, and a one-third reduction in deaths from noncommunicable diseases and injuries,” said lead author Ole Norheim, professor of global health at the University of Bergen, Norway and a visiting professor of global health at Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH), in a September 19, 2014 Science Daily article. “We conclude that a 40 percent reduction in premature deaths is realistic in each country where mortality in 2030 is not dominated by new epidemics, political disturbances or disasters.”

Authors of the Lancet paper called for the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals for 2016-2030 — which are currently under discussion and which will replace the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that will expire at the end of 2015 — to include specific targets for each country to reduce premature deaths by 40 percent.