The Visual History of
Global Health

www.OurWorldInData.org

Life expectancy before 1800 was very low. This is the historical data for England.

Life expectancy was low across the world in 1800.

This is because child mortality was very high - we'll look at that in a moment.

Back to life expectancy in England: note how it doesn't change much before 1800.
But then: it more than doubles over the next 200 years!
And the same happened in other European countries.

After a delay, life expectancy doubles in countries around the world.

This is an interactive chart-- you can click 'Add country' and see more data, or change to the map view.

Let's look at the global development of health. This is life expectancy in 1800 again.

Compare the previous map to life expectancy in 2011.

(The legend is the same in both maps.)

A comparison of life expectancy in 1800, in 1950 and today shows how dramatic this improvement was.

(All 3 maps have the same legend. Remember that you always find the interactive visualization by clicking on the map.)

Now let's look at child mortality.

Child mortality is the number of newborn babies that
die before reaching the age of five - per 1,000 live births.

Children younger than 5 years were the age group that experienced the biggest improvements.

Child mortality first dropped in those countries that industralized early, but others were soon to follow.

The decline happened very fast in countries that grew rapidly, like South Korea. But also in Iran.

Let's look at the whole world again.

Press the play button to see the change from 1970 until today.

Children experienced the largest decrease in mortality but it was not exclusively children who benefited.

Life expectancy at older ages also improved substantially.

Not only the mortality of children but also the mortality of their mothers decreased dramatically.

A hundred years ago a woman was more than 70 times more likely to die while giving birth.

Particularly remarkable are the cases in which diseases were completely eradicated. The most important of these was smallpox, which thanks to vaccination, was removed from the world in 1977.

Smallpox was a very destructive disease. Before the time of the smallpox vaccination it was the cause of death for around 10% of the population of London every year.

Other diseases are being eliminated in more and more places around the world.

This map shows the past and current malaria prevalence. Malaria has been successfully eliminated in many areas.

The number of people dying of malaria is declining quite rapidly.

In the last 15 years the global death toll has been almost cut in half.

HIV/AIDS is still a serious health threat but with the availability of antiretroviral treatment, the number of deaths from AIDS has been declining over the last decade.

As a conclusion I want to summarize
the global change in one graph.

The graph shows a lot of information and is slightly
more complicated - let's look at it in three steps.

In 1800 life expectancy was very low in all countries.

The worst off countries had a life expectancy of 25 years - while the best off countries could sometimes reach 40.

In the next step we look at the increase of life expectancy between 1800 and 1950.

It was a very unequal improvement: some countries experienced huge progress, while others still had life expectancies under 40.

Over the last six decades the less well off countries have caught up.

Life expectancy in all countries in the world is much higher than it was 200 years ago!

www.OurWorldInData.org

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