Almost Half of All Deaths Are in People Under 60

This is the VOA Special English Health Report.

A new study from the World Health Organization says fifty-nine million people died from all causes in two thousand four. Ten million of them were children.

The report says almost half of all the people who died were under the age of sixty. About twenty percent of them were under fourteen.

Colin Mathers was the lead author of the study. He is the W.H.O.'s coordinator for epidemiology and burden of disease. He says the research points to major differences around the world.

COLIN MATHERS: "Africa stands out. The burden of disease, premature mortality is twice as high as for other developing regions in the world. And a substantial component of that burden is because of the high levels of child mortality in Africa compared to other regions. Half of all deaths in Africa are children under fifteen to compare with high income countries where one percent of deaths are under fifteen -- a huge difference."

Sam Jones from Doctors Without Borders treats a patient in southern Sudan
Sam Jones from Doctors Without Borders treats a patient in southern Sudan
The number one cause of death around the world is heart disease, followed by strokes. Four of the ten leading causes of death worldwide are infectious diseases. These are pneumonia, infectious diarrhea, H.I.V./AIDS and tuberculosis. Other leading causes of death are lung disease, cancers of the windpipe and lungs, road accidents and low birth weight.

The research also shows that between the ages of fifteen and sixty, men have a much higher risk of death than women. The researchers say this is mainly because of injuries from violence, including war.

The study found that the Middle East produced fifty-five percent of the world's war dead in two thousand four. The Middle East has about eight percent of the world population.

Africa has the highest risk of death for men under sixty, followed by eastern Europe. The report says early deaths in Eastern Europe are mostly the result of injuries and heart and lung disease. But deaths from accidental alcohol poisoning are also common.

Worldwide, almost fifteen percent of deaths in women of reproductive age in two thousand four were related to pregnancy. More than five hundred thousand women died of preventable problems during pregnancy or childbirth.

Another finding in the report is a prediction that by two thousand thirty, tobacco will cause ten percent of all deaths worldwide.

And that's the VOA Special English Health Report. Transcripts and MP3s of our reports are at If you have a general question about health, send it to And please tell us your name and where you are. I'm Doug Johnson.