Home International Plan, Policy & Guidelines World Health Statistics 2020: Monitoring health for the SDGs

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World Health Statistics 2020: Monitoring health for the SDGs

The World Health Statistics 2020 summarizes recent trends in life expectancy and reports on progress towards the main health and health-related Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and associated targets. It also assesses the current availability of those data, and describes how WHO is supporting countries to improve health information systems and global health security. The 2020 edition also includes four indicators (relating to poliomyelitis, hypertension and obesity in adults and school age children) from the Thirteenth General Programme of Work 2019−2023 (GPW13).

Key Messages

The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic has caused significant loss of lives, disrupted livelihoods and undermined well-being throughout the world. The COVID-19 crises have underscored how unprepared most health systems were and the negative impact this can have towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goal (SDGs). These is an urgency to invest in health systems, services and workforce. The 2030 Agenda is a powerful accountability mechanism for the world. It is now more critical than ever to take stock of the lessons learned and progress made in improving population health, and more importantly, to identify and address the gaps that persist where progress is not on track. World Health Statistics 2020 sheds light on the progress towards relevant SDGs and their implications in the midst of the current COVID-19 emergency.

The report highlights the need to track population health and its determinants in a comprehensive and continuous manner. This report’s key messages are presented below;

  1. The world population is not only living longer but living healthier
  2. The overall improvements in health move along the fault lines created by inequalities and echo the status and the progress made towards universal health coverage
  3. Compared with the advances against communicable diseases, there has been inadequate progress in preventing and controlling noncommunicable diseases
  4. Investing in strengthening country health information systems to improve timeliness of data could have the greatest positive impact and is vital for countries to monitor progress towards SDGs
  5. Current rate of progress falls short and COVID-19 further risks getting the world off track to achieve SDGs.

Inside this report;

  • Page 2: Major gains in life expectancy in low-income countries (Progress on average life expectancy at birth by 5.5 years globally between 2000 and 2016: from 66.5 to 72.0 years)
  • Page 3: The service coverage index improved from 45 globally in 2000 to 66 in 2017, with the strongest increase in low and lower-middle-income countries)
  • Page 3: Overall, between one third and one half the world’s population (33% to 49%) was covered by essential health services in 2017.
  • Page 4: The proportion of the global population spending more than 10% of household budgets on health care reached 12.7% in 2015, up from 9.4% in 2000 and equivalent to about 927 million people. The proportion of the population spending more than 25% of household budgets on health care reached almost 3% in 2015, up from 1.7% in 2000. 
  • Page 6: Maternal mortality has declined but progress is uneven across regions
  • Page 7: There has been significant progress in under-five and neonatal mortality, and deaths are now concentrated in specific regions and countries
  • Page 8: Globally in 2019, about 21.3% of children under 5 years of age were stunted, approximately 144.0 million children under 5 years worldwide suffered from stunting, 6.9% under 5 years of age globally suffered from wasting in 2019.
  • Page 8: Steady progress is being made against major infectious diseases, but stronger efforts are needed to bring the SDG targets within closer reach.
  • Page 12: An estimated 41 million people worldwide died of NCDs, equivalent to 71% of all deaths. 
  • Page 16: Air pollution is a major environmental risk to health.
  • Page 16: An estimated 478 000 people were killed in homicides globally in 2017.
  • Page 16: Violence against women (VAW) is common worldwide and is associated with numerous, serious health problems for women and their children.
  • Page 16: There were almost 800 000 suicide deaths globally in 2016.
  • Page 17: The overall mortality rate due to road traffic injuries has stayed fairly constant between 2000 and 2016, at around 18 deaths per 100 000 population in 2016.


Read the full report
Browse a visual summary of the World Health Statistics
Read the press release
Browse the World health statistics data dashboard

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