Africa has the most widespread health problems of any continent, with an average life expectancy more than 20 years below developed nations, the World Health Organization reported Tuesday.
A WHO analysis found that three out of five Africans lack basic health services, and an African woman is 25 times more likely to die of a pregnancy-related cause than her European counterpart.Although life expectancy in Africa has been slowly rising over the past several decades, it still lags behind other regions of the world, the WHO said.
The average African baby born in 1990 can expect to live 53 years, compared with an average life expectancy of 74 years for developed nations and 64 years worldwide, the study showed.
About 385 million of the approximately 661 million people on the African continent live in regions without appropriate measures to control malaria, WHO said. About 250 million Africans are infected by malaria parasites; at least 90 million cases of malaria occur annually on the continent; and at least 750,000 African children die each year from the mosquito-borne disease, the analysis found.
About 150 million Africans lack access to safe drinking water, and about 141 million people are infected with water-borne parasites that cause the disease schistosomiasis, a disease that contributes to malnutrition.
Africans also suffer about 45 million sexually transmitted infections annually.