Assessing the direct effects of the Ebola outbreak on life expectancy in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea

Stephane Helleringer, Andrew Noymer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Background: An EVD outbreak may reduce life expectancy directly (due to high mortality among EVD cases) and indirectly (e.g., due to lower utilization of healthcare and subsequent increases in non-EVD mortality). In this paper, we investigated the direct effects of EVD on life expectancy in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea (LSLG thereafter). Methods: We used data on EVD cases and deaths published in situation reports by the World Health Organization (WHO), as well as data on the age of EVD cases reported from patient datasets. We used data on non-EVD mortality from the most recent life tables published prior to the EVD outbreak. We then formulated three scenarios based on hypotheses about a) the extent of under-reporting of EVD cases and b) the EVD case fatality ratio. For each scenario, we re-estimated the number of EVD deaths in LSLG and we applied standard life table techniques to calculate life expectancy. Results: In Liberia, possible reductions in life expectancy resulting from EVD deaths ranged from 1.63 year (low EVD scenario) to 5.56 years (high EVD scenario), whereas in Sierra Leone, possible life expectancy declines ranged from 1.38 to 5.10 years. In Guinea, the direct effects of EVD on life expectancy were more limited (<1.20 year). Conclusions: Our high EVD scenario suggests that, due to EVD deaths, life expectancy may have declined in Liberia and Sierra Leone to levels these two countries had not experienced since 2001-2003, i.e., approximately the end of their civil wars. The total effects of EVD on life expectancy may however be larger due to possible concomitant increases in non-EVD mortality during the outbreak.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalPLoS Currents
Volume7
Issue numberOUTBREAKS
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 19 2015

Keywords

  • Demography
  • Ebola
  • EBOV
  • Guinea
  • Liberia
  • Life expectancy
  • Sierra leone

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Assessing the direct effects of the Ebola outbreak on life expectancy in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this