Our Mortality Rate is WHAT?!!

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To be honest, this is not really a topic I wanted to write about. Most of the time, I like to stay positive and focus on how each of us can work to become healthier individuals, inside and out. But sometimes, it is important to bring the bad to light so we can strive to do our part to make things better.

A few weeks ago, I wrote an article that spurred comments about how Nigeria has a better life expectancy than most of the world. Well, if you are lucky enough to have all four grandparents, two healthy parents, and barely any dead friends or relatives, you probably don’t know that the rest of the country is not exactly like you.  No, we don’t have a better life expectancy than most of the world. To be frank, we are actually one of the lowest, down in the bottom thirty percent. Now, I know that I didn’t think we were at the top, but that was a little bit of a shocker.

Where did this information come from? There are many sources out there for life expectancy, from how long we are expected to live when we are born based on trends, to how long people are actually living. But these various sources seem to have a matching theory: We are not doing very well. Here’s a little information gathered from the CIA and the UN:

CIA: Well, the CIA knows everything, right? I always say “They are watching you even when you are not watching yourself.” Their estimate as of 2010 is that our life expectancy rate at birth is 46.94 years. For males, it is a little lower at 46.16 years, and for females, it is a little higher at 47.76 years. Considering that this number includes AIDS victims too, and we are among the highest in the world.

UN: According to the United Nations Development Program, the numbers are very similar at 47 years for men, and 48 years for women, and about 47.7 years overall.

Just to put these numbers into perspective a little, here are the life expectancy rates of a few other countries.

Japan – 82.6 (UN) and 82.1 (CIA)

UK – 79.4 (UN) and 79 (CIA)

US – 78.2 (UN) and 78.11 (CIA)

China – 73 (UN) and 73.47 (CIA)

India – 64.7 (UN) and 69.89 (CIA)

I put the statement out this week on twitter, and this was the most shocking response I got: “My grandmother lived till 103. Those numbers are not right.” Well, I guess you’re lucky then.

When I sat down to think about it, I realized that it doesn’t really matter how they came up with these numbers. Looking through all the people I know that die of strange diseases every year, it seems about right to me. And what other country do we know where people go to bed and pray to wake up in the morning? I have known or heard of so many people that die in their sleep for reasons that are probably health-related. So ignoring the numbers in front of us is not really a good way to look at the complete picture.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not saying we are bad just to say we are bad. There is no point recognizing we have a problem if we are not going to try to fix it. Yes, we can’t immediately fix the poverty and AIDS issues that are already rampant in our country, but we can try to work on our own bodies and spread the knowledge we have. Knowledge is power, and so if we can all educate ourselves, we can change these numbers even slightly for our own generation. If one person can try to eat right and exercise to reduce his/her own health risks and infect his/her family with the determination and knowledge in the process, we are one step closer to achieving some sort of effect.

When you see that the numbers above are not true only for Nigeria, but for African Americans too, you’ll realize that it does have a lot to do with our diet and lack of physical activity.

I am well aware that if an individual does not have food to eat in the first place, his first concern is not about how he can exercise. But for those of us that do have food and clothing and shelter, we can do what we can to change the outlook of our future.

For questions, feedback, suggestions, and opinions, please leave a comment or catch me on twitter @eightsnweights.

Suzanne Brume

Suzanne Brume

Suzanne Brume is a fitness enthusiast (or as fondly referred to by family, a gym addict) who has resolved to bringing awareness to living a healthy lifestyle. Her mantra? You can only live life to the fullest if you’re determined to live it well. On 360nobs.com check out her column: Bringing Fit Back and to check out where she started from visit eightsandweights.blogspot.com.


  1. Wow!!! All these stupid oyinbo people that go to some of the poorest parts in Africa and use them for stats of how Africans are and should be.

    So Suzanne are we saying the aids people are the only ones counted for this?

  2. Strongly dispute your “facts”. One because this is what i do for a living. I would tell you that the we are above that as an average in Nigeria and i would tell you that what they are estimating is based on the fact that they don’t see a lot of progress in our health field(which i can’t blame them for). Look at how low how death rate is, look at how low our infant mortality rate is and total fertility rate. My thing is with data you have to be careful to put things in proper perspective and not just put out the information even though its from CIA.

    “note: estimates for this country explicitly take into account the effects of excess mortality due to AIDS; this can result in lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality, higher death rates, lower population growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected (July 2010 est.)”

    culled from CIA FACTBOOK

    1. “Considering that this number includes AIDS victims too, and we are among the highest in the world”

      Either you did not read that part or it means something else to you. The writer did say she got these “facts” from the same place you would get yours. She did not pull the numbers out of her ass. And yes these numbers are real Nigerians like to believe because they don’t physically see something in their environment then it is not true. Now step outside your comfortable house in Lagos,drive towards the slums and ask the little boy on if he has a mother and a grandmother, then come back and tell me his answer. and this is Lagos. Now take it in that a HUGE percent of Nigeria is not even as developed as Lagos and let these numbers sink in.

  3. @Lina….i did not say she did not put that and i took the numbers from the exact place she got hers from and i culled exactly what they wrote on there and i never said she pulled it out her ass.i am allowed to say my opinion and present my facts as i see them. What i said was that she needs to expatiate on the true meanings behind the numbers thats #1 and not just say the numbers and #2 not all information is accurate. I work with data everyday, we manipulate numbers everyday and they have manipulated the numbers like they told you to account for our high levels of AIDS. Also you are quite wrong if you think that people in Lagos have higher living conditions than people outside Lagos. For a fact you should know that cities have the worst rates than a rural place will have. I don’t live in Lagos ma and thats beside the point. The diseases that affect cities aren’t always the same things that affect rural communities. So please read my comment again. I wasn’t tearing her down. I wanted her and you to take things in perspective. Like you said if you want to find out real data you need to go the slums and put that into account, something a lot of these “data” fails to show.

  4. These facts are true. what Nigerians need to understand is that you dont have to be living in a city to know the average life expectancy. there are biostatistical tools that analyse these based on past and current trends of a country..they include everything from fitness, diet and also disease outbreaks.it is called epidemiology.

    i agree with suzanne on this one. people need to take these things more seriously. a lot of our parents have high blood pressure, diabetes etc..err why do you think that is? all these diseases are genetic, so if your parents have them..chances are you are going to get them also unless you start being health conscious.

    Neefemi: sorry dude you are wrong. they dont see a lot of progress in “our health field” simply bcos theres none. sorry to burst ur bubble homie. if there was it would impact people around

    anyways the CIA and UN dont need to be living in the slums to know these facts…like i said…its simple epidemiology.

    suzanne welldone for at least trying to make nigerians aware of all these things.You and that young lady that writes for mutant-geek blog (dont know her name) are trying. god bless you people jare.

  5. Lol. Forgive me Suzanne btw. I should tell you that i read your post diligently. I do love intelligent conversations and i am clearly bored so bear with me.

    @CY…. i studied epidemiology, about to start my doctorates in the field. I am not arguing and i didn’t say the post was bad in trying to enlighten people.

    My only argument was that Suzanne needed to expatiate on the data given. She mentioned the fact that people with AIDS influenced the numbers but i wanted her and you to realize that it affected it strongly because with the other rates like death rates, you will see that Nigeria is not that bad.

    O i’m a girl 🙂 and i want to see progress in our health field same with Suzanne thats why we take interests in this topics and we can help by one talking about it but more importantly making sure that we don’t confuse data by speaking the truth and explaining it in detail realizing that there are many reasons why our numbers may not look good.

    I agree with CIA and UN not having to live there, but i have a problem with them not taking into account developments in the country or even where we have gone backwards thats why i think field research is important. Again my problem with data is that it allows anybody to extrapolate. I really believe that most of the data in Nigeria is inaccurate starting right from our census.

    So thats my argument, i say teach us to be a health conscious nation. Trust me we need that. But i will really like that we avoid a lot of the numbers especially when it comes to Nigeria

    Last comment before i’m banned from posting on here. Again keep in mind that this is my opinion you don’t have to agree of course and i understand that and thanks for keeping it civil i appreciate that.


  6. woww. thanks for the information suzanne. nice write up

    @ Cy, that young ladys name is ify aniebo and the african health blog is hers.

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