Vietnamese life expectancy up, but non-infectious disease cases rise hinh anh 1People exercise at a park in HCM City. Health experts recommend that people carefully watch what they eat, be physically active, avoid the use of tobacco and alcohol, and lower stress levels. (Photo: VNA)
HCM City (VNS/VNA) - Although average life expectancy has increased, the number of cases of non-infectious disease among Vietnamese has risen, said Dr Nguyen Thi Kim Tien, head of the Department of Health Protection and Care of Central Officials.

Tien spoke at an annual national workshop on health and longevity held in Ho Chi Minh City on April 8.

The average life expectancy of Vietnamese is 73.6 compared to 68.6 in 1999, according to the population census in 2019. However, Vietnamese women are ill an average of a total of 11 years, compared to eight years for men, she said.

“Non-infectious chronic diseases are the number one killer today, with more than 70 percent of deaths coming from cardiovascular disease, cancer and diabetes,” she noted.

The number of cases increase significantly from the age of 40 due to aging, inadequate nutrition, high consumption of tobacco and alcohol, stress, and other factors.

“The number in Vietnam has reached alarming levels,” she said, adding that “how we age depends hugely on how we behave.” 

She said that people should carefully watch what they eat, be physically active, avoid the use of tobacco and alcohol, and lower stress levels.

“You should listen to your body and see a doctor as soon as possible if ill because early detection is important in treatment, reducing mortality and improving quality of life,” she said. 

Aging population

In 2011, Vietnam began to enter the period of an aging population and is one of the countries with the fastest aging rates in the world.

In 2017, the number of people 60 years and older accounted for 11.9 percent of the total population. 

This group will account for about 21 million people by 2038, or 20 percent of the population. The number will reach 27 million or 25 percent of the population by 2050, according to the General Statistics Office.

The average life expectancy of Vietnamese is 1.6 years higher than the world average, but the population is about 16 years older than the world population.

Dr. Le Dinh Thanh, Director of HCM City-based Thong Nhat Hospital, said the rapid aging of the population poses huge challenges to a low to middle-income country like Vietnam, requiring the country to improve its social security and healthcare system for the elderly.

Vietnam needs to raise awareness about preparation for old age, including planning for financial security, and ensuring medical examination and treatment as well as social policies for the elderly.

Infectious diseases kill more than 300 people per year in the country, while non-infectious diseases kill over 400,000, according to the Ministry of Health.

As many as 70 percent of deaths every year are caused by non-infectious diseases, of which 40 percent occur to people under 70 years old.

Non-infectious diseases, including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, mental illness and cancer, not only affect longevity but also the quality of life.

Experts attribute the reasons for the rising number of cases to the fact that people lack awareness about prevention of such diseases. As many as 49 percent of men smoke, and 77 percent of the population drinks alcohol, while 11 percent of them drink at an alarming level.

Salt consumption in Vietnam is double the amount recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

The Ministry of Health has set a goal to ensure by 2025 that deaths caused by non-infectious diseases will fall to 20 percent from the current 70 percent. 

The goal is to reduce the proportion of people smoking by 30 percent and those drinking alcohol by 10 percent, while reducing salt intake by 30 percent./.