Political turmoil after 2011 uprising decreased Egyptians' life expectancy: Study

Ahram Online , Wednesday 31 Aug 2016

While people in Egypt are living longer than they were in 1990, the 2011 uprising led to marginal drop in life expectancy

An Egyptian elderly woman (AP)
An Egyptian elderly woman (AP)

A new study reveals that overall life expectancy in Egypt has increased in the past two decades but political turmoil resulting from the 2011 uprising caused life expectancy to drop by 0.25 years.

Overall life expectancy in Egypt from 1990 to 2013 increased from 62 years to 68 years for men, and from 67 years to 74 years for women. But a slight decrease occurred following the 2011 uprising.

"Today, Egypt is at risk of sliding backwards, as instability threatens the nation’s health infrastructure and health professionals consider taking their talents elsewhere," explained Ali Mokdad, director for Middle Eastern Initiatives at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) in a press statement.

The study also identified the top five causes of health burdens in Egypt in 2013: heart disease, lower back pain, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and lower respiratory infections (LRI).

While the health burden of LRI has decreased by 85.9 percent since 1990, the burden of lower back pain has increased 16.4 percent.

A total of 22 nations in Central Asia, the Middle East, and North Africa were examined in the study over the period 1990 to 2013.

The study revealed that life expectancy also decreased in other Arab countries that underwent political transition and turmoil in the past five years, including Syria, Yemen, Libya and Tunisia.

Life expectancy in Syria, where a civil war and Islamist insurgency are raging, tumbled the most, with life expectancy dropping six years compared to that prior to the war.

Syria also witnessed an increase in infant and maternal mortality, according to the study, becoming the only country in the region to see this trend.

The study, Health in Times of Uncertainty in the Eastern Mediterranean Region, 1990–2013, is based on findings from the Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries, and Risk Factors Study (GBD) coordinated with IHME at the University of Washington in Seattle. 

Egypt allocated 5.7 percent of total government spending to healthcare for the fiscal year 2016/17.

Although the figure is an eight percent increase from that of the previous year, healthcare professionals have long complained that the healthcare system needs a comprehensive overhaul.

They argue that hospitals need to be updated, that some in places far from the capital lack basic equipment and machines, and doctors' salaries need to increase.

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