Gains noted in life spans

July 07, 1993|By New York Times News Service

WASHINGTON -- Since 1960, life expectancy at birth in developing countries has soared to 63 years from 46 and the number of children who die before their fifth birthday has dropped by two-thirds, the World Bank said yesterday.

The startling gains have come from wider availability of basic public health measures such as treating diarrheal disease with common fluids and standard immunizations that now save about 3 million lives each year. Such measures have narrowed the gap between poor and rich countries in health, unlike that for income.

In turn, the gains have been an important contributor to declining fertility rates in many areas of the world, according to the bank's report, "Investing in Health."

Still, enormous health problems remain, the report said, largely because much of the nearly $2 trillion devoted to health services is misspent.

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