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People's life expectancy in Africa rose nearly 10 years the first two decades of this century. In the year 2000, the average African could expect to live to be 46. That rose to 56 2019. The World Health Organization said the rise was the best any region in the world over the same period. However, the WHO said Africa was still considerably below the global average 64 years. The statistics are the WHO's State of Health in Africa report, which was issued on Thursday. It attributes the improvement to better maternal, newborn and child healthcare, advances fighting infectious diseases (such as TB, malaria and HIV), and the easier access essential health services.

The WHO report urged African nations to keep the momentum going to ensure life expectancy rates continue their upward trend. It called greater investment health care systems so that they are better equipped to deal the challenges ahead. These include an added strain hospitals a growing population, and the growth non-communicable diseases like cancer. The WHO said there is a worrying spike the numbers of Africans experiencing hypertension and diabetes. The WHO's Regional Director Africa said: "The progress must not stall. Unless countries enhance measures...the health gains could be jeopardized."

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