Global Health by the Numbers: December 2019

Global Health by the Numbers: December 2019

Deep dive into data reveals how health influences and interacts with broader social, economic, and demographic trends

Close-up photo of the surface of a silicon semiconductor chip: WELLCOME COLLECTION/Paul Griggs. CC BY
Close-up photo of the surface of a silicon semiconductor chip. WELLCOME COLLECTION/Paul Griggs. CC BY

A regular feature at Think Global Health will be sharing the statistics that convey the ways in which health influences and interacts with broader social, economic, and demographic trends. These numbers will help you understand in quantitative terms the global growth of cities, the mass migration of people, the outcomes of a warming climate, the critical trends in agriculture, the global expansion of supply chains, and the empowerment of women and girls. For our inaugural piece, we will focus on the basics.



        The cost associated with health damage from ambient air pollution is estimated to be $5.7 trillion, equivalent to 4.8 percent of global GDP in 2016. Source: World Bank Group


   Estimated premature deaths (in millions) globally caused by pollution in 2015, accounting for 16 percent of all global deaths worldwide. Source: The Lancet Commission on pollution and health


   The number of year in the last decade that were designated the hottest year on record. Source: NASA


          Temperature (°F) in New Delhi on June 10, a record for the city reached amid 2019 heat wave. Source: New York Times




          Threshold income per day for those living in extreme poverty (in 2011 purchasing power parity (PPP) dollars).  Source: World Bank


     Estimated number of people (in billions) who were living in extreme poverty at $1.90 level, in 1990. Source: World Bank


     Estimated number of people (in millions) who were living in extreme poverty at $1.90 level, in 2019. Source: World Bank

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            Number of extremely poor people who live in middle-income nations.  Source: New York Times.




          Exports of goods and services as a share of GDP, 2017. Source: World Bank Group


      Share of that low- and middle income countries represent in global trade, 2014. Since 1985, that share has doubled. Source: World Bank Group


   Number of preferential trade agreements that existed in 1990.  Source: World Bank Group


      Number of preferential trade agreements that existed in 2019.  Source: World Trade Organization


         Founding of the World Trade Organization (WTO)


    U.S. free trade deals with pharmaceutical protections that go beyond those in WTO agreements. Source: Bollyky & Kesselheim




    Percent annual growth in international development assistance for health, 2000-2010. Source: IHME


     Percent annual growth in international development assistance for health, 2010-2018. Source: Dieleman et al.


         First International Sanitary Conference convenes in Paris.  Source: Fidler


   Years since WHO officially certified the eradication smallpox on December 9, 1979.  Source:

WHO Bulletin


        Millions of people on antiretroviral treatment funded by the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the U.S. government's response to the global HIV/AIDS epidemic.

Source: U.S. State Department


         World Health Organization founded.


  Percent of international development assistance of health that goes to the cancers, cardiovascular diseases, and other noncommunicable diseases that cause the majority of death and disability in low- and middle-income countries. Source: IHME




      Millions of people suffering from undernourishment worldwide, which is roughly one in every nine people. Source: FAO


    Percentage decline in the number of people suffering undernutrition since 2005. Source: FAO


     Share of food produced for human consumption that is lost or wasted annually— approximately 1.3 billion tons. Source: FAO


    Percentage of freshwater use that goes to agriculture globally. Source: World Bank Group.


  Billion people are overweight or obese globally, as of 2015.  Source: NEJM




    Share of world's population residing in urban areas in 2018. Source: UN World Urbanization Prospects.


    Expected percentage contribution of Africa and Asia to global urban growth between 2018 and 2050. Source: UN World Urbanization Prospects.


  Projected number of people (in billions) who are expected to be living in slums by 2030. Source: Lancet.




        The first year when the number of people over age sixty-five outnumbered people under age five globally. Source: UN Population Prospects.


    Percentage of the population under age 25 in sub-Saharan Africa. Source: UN Population Prospects


        Year when the working age population (25-64 years) of Latin America is expected to peak. Source: UN Population Prospects


       Percentage decrease expected in the number of women between the ages 20 and 40 in China by 2050. Source: New York Times.




      Millions of girls out of primary and/or secondary school worldwide, in 2016. Source: UNESCO


               Women who die from complications in pregnancy or childbirth each year. Source: WHO et al.


    Proportion of women who have an unmet need for modern contraception in sub-Saharan Africa. South Asia has the absolute number of women (70 million) with unmet need for contraception. Source: Guttmacher Institute


      Women (in billions) who are legally restricted from same job choices as men. Source: World Bank Group.




      Millions of international migrants in 2017. Source: IOM


     Share that international migrants represent of global population in 2017. Source: IOM


      Millions of people forcibly displaced worldwide in 2018, the highest levels of displacement on record. Source: UNHCR


       Millions of refuges living in “protracted situations,” which UNHCR defines as one in which twenty-five thousand or more refugees from the same nationality have been in exile for five consecutive years or more in a given host country. Source: UNHCR

Thomas J. Bollyky is director of the Global Health program and senior fellow for global health, economics, and development at the Council on Foreign Relations.

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