According to the World Health Organisation 57 million people die every year world-wide.
WHO says that cardiovascular diseases kill more people each year than any others. In 2008, 7.3 million people died of ischaemic heart disease, 6.2 million from stroke or another form of cerebrovascular disease. That’s a total of 13.5 million.
Tobacco use is a major cause of many of the world’s top killer diseases – including cardiovascular disease, chronic obstructive lung disease and lung cancer. In total, tobacco use is responsible for the death of almost one in 10 adults worldwide – that’s 5.7 million per year. Smoking is often the hidden cause of the disease recorded as responsible for death.
WHO lists the top ten killers worldwide as follows:
Ischaemic heart disease - 7.25 million deaths
Stroke and other cerebrovascular disease - 6.15
Lower respiratory infections - 3.46
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease - 3.28
Diarrhoeal diseases - 2.46
HIV/AIDS - 1.78
Trachea, bronchus, lung cancers - 1.39
Tuberculosis - 1.34
Diabetes mellitus - 1.26
Road traffic accidents - 1.21
Of course the distribution of deaths is different in different countries.
In high-income countries more than two thirds of all people live beyond the age of 70 and predominantly die of chronic diseases: cardiovascular disease, chronic obstructive lung disease, cancers, diabetes or dementia. Lung infection remains the only leading infectious cause of death.
In low-income countries less than one in five of all people reach the age of 70, and more than a third of all deaths are among children under 15. People predominantly die of infectious diseases: lung infections, diarrhoeal diseases, HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria. Complications of pregnancy and childbirth together continue to be leading causes of death, claiming the lives of both infants and mothers.
More than 8 million deaths in 2008 were among children under five years of age, and 99% of them were in low- and middle-income countries.
So here are WHO’s big three: Cardiovascular disease – 13.5 million deaths; Tobacco – 5.7 million; Childhood diseases – 8 million.
But these three are not actually the biggest killers.
About 18 million deaths annually are either directly, or indirectly, the result of poverty.
But even poverty – which kills about one in three people on the planet - is not the greatest killer.
The WHO has also failed to count 45 million deaths every year because in reality there are not 57 million annually but 102 million.
The WHO has failed to count 3 million stillbirths and 42 million abortions.
There is no one more vulnerable, more innocent and killed in greater numbers than the child in the womb.
Together poverty and abortion kill 60 million people every year. These two causes account for 60% of all deaths.
Every Christian who cares about human rights should be aware of the effects of both poverty and abortion on the world’s most vulnerable people and every Christian and every church should be doing something about both issues.
Christians must be concerned for vulnerable people – whether they are children on a garbage heap in a developing world city or defenceless babies in the womb. Both are equally important to God.
Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy. (Proverbs 31:8,9)
Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering toward slaughter. (Proverbs 24:10-12)