Almost half a billion men, women suffered from lower respiratory infections globally in 2019: Report

The leading risk factors for LRI mortality, however, varied across age groups and sex

By Zumbish
Published: Saturday 13 August 2022
One in 5 people of 15-49 years (both males & females) died of Lower Respiratory Infections globally in 2019 due to smoking, the Global Burden of Disease 2019, said. Photo: Chinky Shukla / CSE

Almost half a billion people — 257 million males and 232 million females — suffered from lower respiratory infections (LRI) globally in 2019, according to the Global Burden of Disease 2019. Lower respiratory tract infections are any infections in the lungs or below the voice box. These include pneumonia, bronchitis, and tuberculosis.

“In the same year, 1.30 million females and 1.2 million males across the globe died of various LRIs,” the report, which is an analysis of data for the global burden of diseases, injuries and risk factors, stated.

The study, released August 11, 2022, assessed the burden and trends of LRIs and risk factors across all age groups by sex, for 204 countries and territories. It was prepared by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) based in Seattle, United States and published in the health journal The Lancet.

The researchers used the cause of death ensemble modelling strategy; DisMod-MR 2.1, a Bayesian meta-regression tool; prevalence data identified via systematic reviews of the literature; population-based survey data and claims and inpatient data as part of the methodology of the study.

The researchers also estimated age-sex-specific LRI mortality that is attributable to the independent effects of 14 risk factors.

What the study found

Age-standardised incidence and mortality rates were 1.17 times and 1.31 times greater in males than in females in 2019, the study found.

It also observed that between 1990 and 2019, LRI incidence and mortality rates declined at different rates across age groups. Also, an increase in LRI episodes and deaths was estimated among all adult age groups.

Males aged 70 years and older had the highest increase in LRI episodes and deaths, the study stated.

“During the same period, the LRI episodes and deaths in children younger than 15 years were estimated to have decreased and the greatest decline was observed for LRI deaths in males younger than 5 years,” it read.

Read Down To Earth’s coverage on indoor air pollution

The leading risk factors for LRI mortality, however, varied across age groups and sex.

“More than half of global LRI deaths in children younger than 5 years were attributable to child wasting. Over a quarter of LRI deaths among those aged 5-14 years were attributable to household air pollution for males and 25.8 per cent for females,” the study said.

The study concluded:

The patterns and progress in reducing the burden of LRIs and key risk factors for mortality varied across age groups and sexes. The progress seen in children younger than five years was clearly a result of targeted interventions, such as vaccination and reduction of exposure to risk factors.  

The study also suggested that similar interventions for other age groups could contribute to the achievement of multiple Sustainable Development Goals targets, including promoting wellbeing at all ages and reducing health inequalities.

“Interventions, including addressing risk factors such as child wasting, smoking, ambient particulate matter pollution and household air pollution, would prevent deaths and reduce health disparities,” it said.

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