UAE citizens now living shorter lives

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A new study points out that life expectancy in the UAE is lowest among a comparable group of countries.

A group of UAE Nationals performing the traditional dance during UAE National Day celebrations.
A group of UAE Nationals performing the traditional dance during UAE National Day celebrations. A new study points out that life expectancy in the UAE is lowest among a comparable group of countries due to higher road fatalities and heart diseases. Photo-Masdar

Conducted by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, the study evaluated the number of years lost per death for specific causes of death. It highlights road fatalities and heart diseases as being the two major causes in the UAE’s falling life expectancy statistics.

With a life expectancy of 76.3 years, the UAE was ranked the lowest, when compared to 15 countries with similar gross domestic product, income per capita and geography. The findings showed heart disease was the leading cause of death  during 2010, in the UAE. It accounted for almost 18 percent of all deaths, with 34 years of life lost due to heart disease, on average. According to the Dubai Health Authority, one in five deaths is caused by heart disease.

Kuwait and Qatar were the other two Gulf countries included in the list. With a life expectancy of 77.4 years, Kuwait was ranked at 13th position, while Qatar was placed at the 11th rank with a life expectancy of 79.8 years.

The survey blamed road fatalities as being the second largest cause of deaths in the UAE. About 14 percent of lives were lost to road accidents, with the victims losing on an average 51 years of life. The overall life expectancy in the UAE was also lower due to preterm birth complications and congenital anomalies among children. As a result, a higher number of life years were lost in the UAE.

The good news is that authorities in Gulf are taking active steps to create better understanding of psychiatric diseases, including Major Depressive Disorder (MDD). They are developing programs to help create awareness about prevention, promotion and treatment services, to reduce burden of the disease.

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