Dubai: The rate of UAE residents living with diseases or injuries that cause the most health loss is falling, a new study suggests.

The study, published last week in the reputed UK medical journal The Lancet, covers the impact of major conditions — such as ischemic heart disease, cerebrovascular disease and diabetes — on healthy life expectancy in 188 countries.

In the UAE, fewer and fewer people are suffering from the top ten ailments, the research shows. From 1990 to 2013, the rate of people per 100,000 residents suffering ischemic heart disease, for instance, fell from 4,777 to 3,397. Meanwhile the rate for sense organ diseases dropped from 1,125 to 974. However, the rate for diabetes rose from 1,511 to 1,655.

The data seems to be in line with the report’s findings that global life expectancy has risen by more than six years since 1990. The study was conducted by an international consortium of researchers working on the Global Burden of Disease study and led by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington.

The study is titled the ‘Global, regional, and national disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) for 306 diseases and injuries and healthy life expectancy (HALE) for 188 countries, 1990-2013: quantifying the epidemiological transition’.

Though people are living longer, they are living with health problems, the study points out. “People around the world are living longer, even in some of the poorest countries, but a complex mix of fatal and non-fatal ailments causes a tremendous amount of health loss,” a media release on the study said.

The drop in death rates reflects the lessening impact of Aids and malaria in the past decade and the advances made in tackling disorders, the report says. The study doesn’t simply focus on life expectancy but “healthy life expectancy” as well.

“Healthy life expectancy takes into account not just mortality but also the impact of non-fatal conditions and summarises years lived with disability and years lost due to premature mortality. The increase in healthy life expectancy has not been as dramatic as the growth of life expectancy, and as a result, people are living more years with illness and disability,” it says.

The difference between countries with the highest and lowest healthy life expectancy was found to be significant. In 2013, Lesotho had the lowest rate at 42 years, and Japan had the highest globally, at 73.4 years.

But though changes in healthy life expectancy for males and females between 1990 and 2013 were “significant and positive”, dozens of other countries saw no significant improvement, according to the research. Professor Theo Vos of IHME, the study’s lead author, adds: “The world has made great progress in health, but now the challenge is to invest in finding more effective ways of preventing or treating the major causes of illness and disability.”

“As both life expectancy and healthy life expectancy increase, changes in rates of health loss become increasingly crucial,” the media release said.

The top worldwide causes of health loss in 2013 were found to be ischemic heart disease, lower respiratory infections, stroke, low back and neck pain, and road injuries.

Meanwhile, the impact of other ailments, such as diarrhoeal diseases, neonatal preterm birth complications, and lower respiratory infections has significantly declined, the study shows.


Top 10 causes of age-standardised DALYs in the UAE (both sexes) in 1990

Rank Cause Rate per 100,000

1 Ischemic heart disease 4,777.00

2 Cerebrovascular disease 2,471.00

3 Road injuries 1,916.60

4 Diabetes 1,511.00

5 Low back & neck pain 1,414.80

6 Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease 1,251.70

7 Congenital anomalies 1,249.90

8 Sense organ diseases 1,125.20

9 Depressive disorders 929

10 Neonatal preterm birth 870.8



Top 10 causes of age-standardized DALYs in the UAE (both sexes) in 2013

Rank Cause Rate per 100,000

1 Ischemic heart disease 3,397.20

2 Diabetes 1,655.60

3 Cerebrovascular disease 1,538.60

4 Low back & neck pain 1,443.10

5 Road injuries 1,209.20

6 Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease 1,047.70

7 Sense organ diseases 974.1

8 Depressive disorders 946.4

9 Congenital anomalies 704.5

10 Drug use disorders 619.1