Home Fact Sheet World Health Statistics 2024: Monitoring health for the SDGs, Sustainable Development Goals

World Health Statistics 2024: Monitoring health for the SDGs, Sustainable Development Goals

by Public Health Update


The World health statistics report is the annual compilation of health and health-related indicators, which has been published by the World Health Organization since 2005.

The 2024 edition reviews more than 50 health-related indicators from the Sustainable Development Goals and WHO’s Thirteenth General Programme of Work. It also highlights the findings from the Global health estimates 2021, notably the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on life expectancy and healthy life expectancy. The 2024 edition reviews more than 50 health-related indicators from the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and WHO’s Thirteenth General Programme of Work (GPW13). The report consists of four chapters, complemented by tables presenting the latest available data (https://www.who.int/data/gho/publications/worldhealth-statistics).

Key messages

  • In just two years, the COVID-19 pandemic reversed over a decade of gains in both life expectancy at birth and healthy life expectancy (HALE). By 2020, both global life expectancy and HALE had rolled back to 2016 levels (72.5 years and 62.8 years, respectively). The following year saw further declines, with both retreating to 2012 levels (71.4 years and 61.9 years, respectively).
  • The WHO regions most affected were the Region of the Americas and South-East Asia Region, with declines of about 3 years in life expectancy and 2.5 years in HALE between 2019 and 2021. The Western Pacific Region saw the smallest impacts over the first two pandemic years, with losses of less than 0.1 and 0.2 years in life expectancy and HALE, respectively.
  • Globally, the share of deaths from noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) among all deaths rose steadily to 73.9% by 2019, while the share of communicable diseases dropped to 18.2%. With the emergence of COVID-19, communicable diseases surged back to 23.0% of all deaths in 2020 and 28.1% in 2021 – a return to 2005 levels. Consequently, the share of NCD deaths declined to 70.0% in 2020 and 65.3% in 2021.
  • COVID-19 ranked among the top three leading causes of death globally in 2020 and 2021, responsible for 4.1 million and 8.8 million lives lost, respectively.
  • In the Region of the Americas it was the number one cause of death in both years, and ranked in the top five
  • causes for all regions except for the African and Western Pacific regions.
  • At the midway point for the SDGs, progress on health-related Goals has been mixed. Among the 53 health-related indicators included in this report, 32 have numeric SDG or global targets. None of these have yet been achieved, and none are on track under current trends. However, most indicators (42) are showing movement in the right direction globally.
  • The world is also off-track to achieve the universal health coverage (UHC), health emergencies preparedness and healthier populations “Triple Billion” targets by 2025.
  • From the 2018 baselines, 585 million more people are expected to have access to essential health services without incurring catastrophic health spending by 2025, well short of the one billion UHC target. For health emergency preparedness, 777 million more people are expected to be protected by 2025, again short of the target. Healthier populations is the sole area positioned to meet its one billion target, with 1.5 billion additional people anticipated to be living healthier lives by 2025. But acceleration across all three areas is needed to achieve broader health-related SDGs by 2030.
  • The world continues to grapple with the double burden of malnutrition, characterized by the coexistence of undernutrition and overweight/obesity. In 2022, worldwide over one billion people aged 5 years and over were living with obesity, while over half a billion were underweight. In the same year, 148 million children under five were affected by stunting, 45 million suffered from wasting and 37 million were living with overweight.
  • Double-duty actions that efficiently and effectively address both facets of malnutrition are critical to make the most of limited resources.
  • This report also highlights health challenges faced by persons with disabilities, and refugees and migrants.
  • Globally, in 2021, an estimated 1.3 billion people (16% of the population) had disability and faced health inequities due to avoidable, unfair and unjust factors. Progress requires strengthening health systems that integrate targeted actions to increase equity.
  • Refugees and migrants are not inherently less healthy than host populations, yet various suboptimal health determinants – further exacerbated by linguistic, cultural, legal and other barriers – mean that they often experience significant health disparities. Access to health care is often limited for refugees and migrants, with only half of the 84 countries surveyed between 2018 and 2021 providing them access to government-funded health services on par with nationals. Lack of quality data further obstructs understanding of their needs and tracking progress on health goals.
  • The report serves as a crucial reminder that today’s health systems must swiftly adapt to respond to changing demographics and persisting inequities

Read more: Download World Health Statistics 2024: Monitoring health for the SDGs, Sustainable Development Goals

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