24 Jun 2010
Singapore has made significant progress in reducing adult mortality over the past 4 decades as illustrated in a recent study published in the medical journal Lancet. According to the study, adult mortality (the risk of dying after the 15th birthday but before the 60th birthday) for Singapore’s men and women has fallen by about 64% and 68% respectively between 1970 and 2010. The study is the most detailed analysis to date of trend in estimated adult mortality in 187 countries from 1970 to 2010. In terms of ranking of lowest adult mortality across countries, Singapore has moved up in position from 72nd for men and 62nd for women in 1970 to 16th for men and 14th for women in 2010.
Although Singapore has made tremendous improvement in reducing our adult mortality over the 40-year period, we cannot afford to be complacent. Singapore needs to continue with our effort to combat the associated risk factors of cancers and heart diseases as these lifestyle diseases are the main cause of early deaths among adults between 15 and 60 years of age in Singapore today.
Trend in Adult Mortality in Singapore
By Phua Hwee Pin1
1. Adult mortality, which focuses on adults in the prime of their life2, is an important indicator for monitoring the health of populations. It complements more traditional measures of population health such as infant and childhood mortality and life expectancy, as the factors affecting childhood mortality and adult mortality are not necessarily the same.
2. The Lancet medical journal recently published an article3 analysing adult mortality, based on the risk that an individual who has just turned 15 years will die before reaching 60 years of age, in 187 countries, from 1970-2010.
3. This paper examines the trend in adult mortality in Singapore, as analysed in the Lancet study and compares it with that in other countries.
What is the trend in adult mortality rate in Singapore?
4. The Lancet study examined the trends in adult mortality between 1970 and 2010, over a 40-year period. For Singapore, there was a significant reduction in our adult mortality over this period. The study found that adult mortality in Singapore has dropped by 64% from 24.0% in 1970 to 8.7% in 2010 for men, and by 68% from 14.5% in 1970 to 4.7% in 2010 for women.
5. Our own local data confirmed this Lancet finding. For example, over the past 20 years, the age-standardised4 death rate for adults aged 15-59 years in Singapore has halved, from 223 per 100,000 adults in 1989 to 111 per 100,000 adults in 2009. This translates to a very significant drop of about 3% each year. Both men and women have experienced similar improvement in health as measured by the reduction in death rate (Figure 1).
Figure 1: Age-standardised mortality rates for adults aged 15-59 years by gender, 1989-2009