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Health Survey Shows Ugandans Living Longer


Old Ugandans Living Longer

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New data released by the government on Thursday indicates significant improvements in life expectancy for Ugandans over the past two decades. According to statistics from the Uganda Demographic and Health Survey (UDHS) main report 2022, life expectancy in Uganda has increased by 17 years, from an average of 50 years in 2002 to 68 years in 2022. This surge far surpasses the previous rate of increase observed from 1969 to 2002, during which life expectancy rose by only about four years, from 46.5 years to 50.4 years.

The Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS) released the UDHS 2022 report in Kampala, attributing the rise in life expectancy to improved access to healthcare and social services, which have been bolstered by increased government investment. Experts and politicians have linked this improvement to various interventions, including better antenatal care, increased ownership of mosquito nets for malaria prevention, decreased burden of diseases like malaria and HIV/AIDS, and improvements in nutrition and food security.

Prof. Robert Wamala, the deputy director for research and innovation at Makerere University, highlighted the positive impact of socio-economic development and improved infrastructure on reducing mortality rates and enhancing the health and well-being of the population. He emphasized the importance of planning for an aging population as Uganda transitions from being predominantly young.

The UDHS 2022 report also revealed significant reductions in mortality rates across different demographics. Infant mortality decreased by half from 71 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2006 to 36 live births in 2022, while under-five mortality markedly decreased from 128 to 52 per 1,000 live births during the same period. Maternal deaths also declined from 336 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2016 to 189 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2022.

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Amos Lugoloobi, the state minister for Planning at the Finance Ministry, interpreted the decline in mortality rates as a reflection of the government’s successful investments in various sectors, including health, education, food security, and nutrition. He emphasized the importance of sustaining these gains through continued investment and policy support.

Despite the overall increase in life expectancy, the disparity between men and women remains notable. Men still have lower life expectancies compared to women, which experts attribute to factors such as poor health-seeking behavior, risky lifestyles, and stress management issues.

The report also highlighted ongoing challenges, including persistently high rates of teenage pregnancy, with only a slight decline from 25% in 2016 to 24% in 2022. Additionally, issues related to access to reproductive health services for young people and early sexual debut among adolescents remain prevalent.

Dr. Betty Kyaddondo, the director of family health at the National Population Council, emphasized the importance of investing in the quality of life for young people to harness their potential for human capital growth. She raised concerns about the significant proportion of youth not in school or employment, stressing the need for policy interventions to address these challenges.

Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng, the Health Minister, commended the progress made in maternal and child health but acknowledged areas needing improvement, such as nutrition, malaria, and HIV/AIDS. She advocated for a multi-sectoral approach to address these gaps effectively.

The UDHS report also highlighted positive trends in malaria prevention, with 100% of households owning at least one insecticide-treated mosquito net. However, challenges persist, including the recent upsurge in malaria cases and environmental factors contributing to mosquito breeding.

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