Why do we need to know the reasons why people die?

Measuring how many people die each year, and why they died is one of the most important means for devising lifestyle changes and making wellness and healthcare programs for preventing the diseases which kill us prematurely.

No one dies of old age .People actually die from injury (such as a fall or car accident) or disease (such as cancer). Usually when a person is said to have died “of old age,” it means that he or she succumbed to one of the diseases common in our later years. Death is caused by Communicable diseases, non-communicable diseases or injury.

In developing countries non communicable diseases (NCDs) such as heart diseases, cancer, stroke, Diabetes and trauma cause most of the deaths, maternal conditions arising during pregnancy, childbirth complications and communicable diseases such as Tuberculosis, Pneumonia, Diarrhea, Malaria, HIV and Liver diseases play a significant role in causing death.

More than half of all deaths in low-income countries in 2016 were caused by the communicable diseases; By contrast, less than 7% of deaths in high-income countries were due to such causes. However lower respiratory infections were among the leading causes of death across all income groups.

Non communicable diseases (NCDs) caused 71% of deaths globally, ranging from 37% in low-income countries to 88% in high-income countries. All but one of the 10 leading causes of death in high-income countries were NCDs.

Injuries claimed 4.9 million lives in 2016. More than a quarter (29%) of these deaths were due to road traffic injuries Road traffic injuries were also among the leading 10 causes of death in low, lower-middle- and upper-middle-income countries. The world population has grown rapidly in the last century: in 1900 there were fewer than 2 billion people on the planet; today there are 7.7 billion. The change in the world population is determined by two metrics: the number of babies born, and the number of people dying. 4 are born every second and slightly less than 2 die every second. In Pakistan around 1 million and forty thousand people die each year. Heart diseases cancer and lower respiratory infections are the top 3 killers in Pakistan. Maternal deaths prevail due to preventable causes such as sepsis and hemorrhage, combined with high neonatal mortality rates. In young children, diarrhoea and respiratory illness remain as the major killers.

According to the latest WHO data published in 2018 life expectancy in Pakistan is: Male 65.7, female 67.4 and total life expectancy is 66.5 which gives Pakistan a World Life Expectancy ranking of 133. Pakistan is facing a double burden of disease (BoD), and has burden of both communicable and non-communicable diseases. Hepatitis B and C affected 7 % individuals; we have the 5th highest tuberculosis burden in the world, and also have malaria endemicity. The HIV infection is also on the rise.

Non-Communicable Disease along with Injuries and Mental health now constitute the other half of BoD. Injuries account for more than 11% of the total BoD, and are likely to rise with increasing road traffic accidents, urbanization and conflict. Pakistan is ranked 7th in the world for diabetes prevalence. One in four adults over 18 years of age is hypertensive, coupled with elevated smoking levels.

Coronary heart disease is now the leading cause of death in Pakistan and at least 15 to 20 Pakistani die every hour due to heart attack. An estimated 20 per cent of all deaths in Pakistan are due to heart diseases and it claims not less than 260,000 lives every year followed by stroke which causes 110,000 deaths every year,

Tension, sedentary lifestyle, lack of exercise and inadequate sleep, consumption of junk food and excessive smoking is the reason why people are developing heart disease in their early 40s.Research makes it clear that abnormal blood lipid (fat) levels have a strong correlation with the risk of coronary artery diseases, heart attack and coronary death. The good news, however, is that 80% of premature heart attacks and strokes are preventable. Healthy diet, regular physical activity, and not smoking are the keys to prevention. Checking and controlling risk factors for heart disease and stroke such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and high blood sugar or diabetes is also very important.

Scientists at the Harvard School of Public Health estimate that up to 75% of cancer deaths can be prevented by not smoking, eating healthy diet, exercising regularly, staying lean by not overeating, not drinking alcohol, avoiding unnecessary exposure to radiation, getting medical imaging studies only when you need them, avoiding exposure to industrial and environmental toxins, avoiding infections that contribute to cancer, including hepatitis viruses, HIV, and the human papillomavirus, making quality sleep a priority, getting enough vitamin D. Early detection of cancer can also save lives, getting screening tests regularly may find breast, cervical, and colorectal (colon) cancers early, when treatment is likely to work best. Lung cancer screening is recommended for some people who are at high risk

Accident mortality can be reduced by speed reduction, wearing seat belts, driving carefully, fitting stair gates for young children, using child safety car seats, bicycle helmets, smoke alarms, getting optimal treatment and rehabilitation following injuries - eg, effective first aid, and appropriate hospital care.

Our bodies will finally go to cemetery ( from Greek “Sleeping Place”); with more than one million and forty thousand deaths per year in Pakistan, Most of the cities have run out of suitable burial grounds.We have to look at alternatives like making sky scrapper cemeteries. Private luxury cemeteries are a growing trend in Indonesia. This trend first began back in 2007 with the construction of the San Diego Hills Memorial Park, the country’s largest luxury cemetery, located in Karawang, West Java. We must learn from the death, for the secret of life is hidden in the message it has to teach us. Death shows us that we are not our own masters; that our stay on earth is only temporary. Death teaches us how to live; to treasure and enjoy each and every day, to love unconditionally, avoid negative emotions like hate and jealousy and not to waste the precious time granted to us in this world . Universal truth is that rich or poor one day everyone has to go back to the mother earth. We don’t own the land it owns us.

The write is the founding chairman of Global Consultants and has planned and executed the healthcare projects of 12 Medical Colleges, 4 Dental Colleges, 9 Hospitals, 2 Nursing Colleges, Pharmacy College and two Institutes of Allied Health Sciences in Pakistan in the last twenty years.