Top Causes of Death Worldwide


From time to time, the World Health Organization (WHO) records the global death rate and the causes of those deaths, compiling the results into a report. Although it may seem a grisly process, to record the death, the resulting information can give governments and societies an indication of which risks and diseases they should be investing effort into – in order to prevent the deaths that can be prevented. Because of this, it’s worthwhile to look into the top global causes of death, particularly those that are preventable.

Here are the top 10 causes of death, according to the WHO’s report, from data gathered in 2015:

Ischemic heart disease (also known as coronary heart disease)

  1. Stroke
  2. Lower respiratory infections (the most common of which is pneumonia)
  3. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  4. Trachea, bronchus, and lung cancers
  5. Diabetes mellitus (which includes both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes)
  6. Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias
  7. Diarrheal diseases (often caused by consumption of contaminated drinking water)
  8. Tuberculosis
  9. Road injury

The two on this list that sticks out the most are diarrheal diseases and road injury, as both are fairly preventable. Diarrheal diseases, in many cases, can be prevented by providing safe drinking water and hygienic surfaces and sources for food. On paper, this is relatively straightforward. However, much of the world’s population does not have easy access to either of these things. According to the WHO, more than 2 billion people use drinking water that is contaminated with feces, and only 71% of the world’s population has easy access to a safe and reliable clean water source.

The prevalence of diarrheal disease makes sense because of a large number of people who do not have access to safe drinking water. Although the answer to this problem is simple – to provide people with clean drinking water – actually implementing that answer is more difficult. However, with proper resources and finances devoted to combat this problem, it may be possible to have diarrheal diseases taken off the list of the top 10 causes of death.

The other ostensibly preventable cause of death is road injury. Auto accidents took the lives of more than 1.3 million people worldwide in 2015 – 76% of whom, according to the WHO, were male. These deaths may possibly be prevented by stricter traffic laws or, more likely, by stricter enforcement of existing laws. There are, of course, other measures that may decrease the number of deaths to auto accidents. Municipalities may consider programs to prevent drunk driving – a common cause of auto accidents – or to increase the amount of training it takes to obtain a driver’s license.

Although it may seem grim to collect and review statistics about the yearly death toll, the information is invaluable to both governmental systems and private citizens. Regular reviews of these statistics can show us the areas where we can make improvements in both healthcare and preventative measures. This work all pays off in order to prevent unnecessary death around the world.

Melissa Thompson writes about a wide range of topics, revealing interesting things we didn’t know before. She is a freelance USA Today producer, and a Technorati contributor.