ZIMBABWE’S life expectancy has increased to 64,7 years from 60,7 years in the last decade with women living longer than men, according to the latest Zimbabwe National Statistical Agency (ZimStat) figures.
Experts say the increase was due to health interventions such as HIV, Aids prevention and treatment, immunisation and vaccination of children.
ZimStat yesterday released the 2022 Population and Housing Census (PHC) Preliminary Report on Mortality and Orphanhood in Harare.
During the height of the HIV, Aids pandemic, Zimbabwe’s life expectancy once stood at 44 years in 2002. It jumped to 60 in 2012 and then now stands at 64,7.
The country held a census in April this year and within three months, ZimStat has been periodically releasing preliminary reports because of new technologies adopted by the organisation. The 2012 results were released two years later.
Zimbabwe’s population increased by two million from 13 million to 15 million over the past decade.
The Report on Mortality and Orphanhood was presented by ZimStat director general, Mr Taguma Mahonde.
“Life expectancy at birth was higher in urban areas (65,5 years) than in rural areas (63,3 years). Life expectancy at birth was 64,7 years for both s3x3s combined. Females had a higher life expectancy (68,0 years) than males (61,2 years),” said Mr Mahonde.
Mr Piason Mlambo, the United Nations Population Fund Zimbabwe Programmes Specialist for Population and Development said the life expectancy increase could be due to the decrease in death rate.
“Life expectancy is computed from mortality or death rate. So, if the death rate is coming down, from the data which has been presented, then life expectancy is increasing. The explanation is life expectancy is increasing because mortality or death rate is decreasing,” said Mr Mlambo.
The Crude Death Rate in 2012 was 10 per 1 000 and in 2022 according to ZimStat and now it stands at eight per 1000 people, showing a reduction over the past decade.
Crude death rate indicates the number of deaths occurring during the year, per 1,000 population,
Mr Mlambo attributes the country’s population growth to robust health interventions such as HIV, Aids prevention and treatment, alongside immunization and vaccination drives.
“When life expectancy took a dip, which was in 2002 where we were at the peak of our Aids-related deaths and it (life expectancy) was at around 45 years. But from there with the introduction of ARVs, people are now living longer with the condition.
“Factors that are contributing to the increase in life expectancy include the declining HIV prevalence and several coordinated socio-economic interventions involving scaling up of early infant diagnosis and access to paediatric ARVs treatment. This has now seen the gradual rise in life expectancy,” said Mr Mlambo.
Mr Mlambo added that life expectancy at birth is used to gauge the general health status of the population.
“The increasing life expectancy in Zimbabwe is consistent with the United Nations Model of population projections which assumes that life expectancy for both males and females increases by 2,5 years over each five-year period for countries with a life expectancy which is lower than 60 years. Zimbabwe’s life expectancy was less than 60 years in 2012,” said Mr Mlambo.
Meanwhile, turning to the ZimStat report, the agency’s director general Mr Mahonde said there were over seven million children in Zimbabwe and 7,7 percent of them are orphans.
“A total of 7 120 524 children were aged 0 – 17 years and of these children, 7.7 percent (549 485) were orphans. Prevalence of orphanhood ranged from 5.8 percent in Harare province to 9.7 percent in Matabeleland South province,” said Mr Mahonde.
He said there were more orphans in rural areas than in urban areas.
“A total of 396,010 orphans against a population of 4,699,466 aged 0-17 years were in the rural areas and 153,475 orphans against a population of 2,421,058 aged 0-17 years were in the urban areas. Hence orphanhood prevalence was higher within rural areas (8.4 percent) than urban areas (6.3 percent),” said Mr Mahonde.
He said rural areas accounted for the greatest number of orphans that had lost both parents, while most orphans had lost their fathers in both urban and rural areas.
“Of the 396 010 orphans in rural areas, 274 183 (69,2 percent) were paternal orphans, 71 626 (18,1 percent) were maternal orphans and 65 640 (12,7 percent) were double orphans. In urban areas, out of the 153 475 orphans, 107 885 (70,3 percent) were paternal orphans, 30 151 (19,6 percent) were maternal orphans and 15 439 (10,1 percent) were double orphans,” said Mr Mahonde.
Mr Mahonde said mortality plays an important role in changing the rate of population growth although the level of fertility is expected to be a more decisive factor in population increase.
“Mortality level is one of the main health indicators, which also contributes to the assessment of the quality of life. The 2022 PHC collected information on deaths which occurred in the household within the last 12 months with reference to the census night,” said Mr Mahonde.