Factors affecting Guatemala’s Life Expectancy
Guatemala, a small country located in Central America, is striving to decrease its deaths among the population and to improve its quality of life.

This is being done by focusing on health care, safety and disease prevention since these are the main causes affecting Guatemala’s life expectancy in the country.

In the text below, 10 facts about life expectancy in Guatemala are presented, and the special attention is given to problems that affect women and children in the country.

10 Facts About Life Expectancy in Guatemala

  1. According to the latest WHO data published in 2018, life expectancy in Guatemala is 70.4 years for male and 76.0 for female. The total life expectancy is 73.2. This places Guatelama in 94th place in World Life Expectancy ranking.
  2. According to the UNICEF data, four out of 10 children under the age of 5 suffer from poor nutrition. This issue is even worse for the indigenous population since eight out of 10 children, or double more than the average, suffer from the same problem. Health-wise problems at an early age can affect growth, both cognitively and physically.
  3. The Guatemalan government has stepped in by providing more health coverage through the Extension of Coverage Program. The program teaches Guatemalan citizens about nutrition as well as preventative measures. As a result, the percentage of children under the age of 2, who had previously been undernourished, dropped by 13 percent, starting at 73 percent and ending at 60 percent.
  4. The serious problem in the country is the rate at which babies are dying. According to the World Bank, in the early 2000s, only one out of five pregnant women received proper care. This resulted in low birth weights and respiratory infections. The Extension of Coverage Program has strengthened 40 subsidiary level facilities in order to ensure safer births. The program has made it possible for mothers to get care during their pregnancy and while in labor. As a result, the death rate of pregnant women in Guatemala has fallen by almost 2 percent. In June 2006, the rate was 3.2 percent compared to 1.24 percent recorded in December 2012.
  5. Violence in Guatemala is another serious issue that affects life expectancy indirectly. Peace Women reported that 22 percent of women’s deaths are connected with organized or gang-related activities, 24 percent are related to domestic violence, and 23 percent are attributed to blackmail. Most of the sexual and physical abuse of women goes unnoticed.
  6. The Presidential Commission against Femicide established in 2009, has a goal to address the factors that are causing women to lose their lives. They have put new laws into effect that allow police to enter a home without a warrant if they fear that a woman is in danger.
  7. Another law, that was passed in 2007, has now made it a criminal offense to injure or kill a woman. The sentences run from 25 up to 50 years for homicides, and five to 12 years for physical violence or sexual assault. Guatemala’s female deaths have plummeted from 720 to 651.
  8. Gang-related crimes affect Guatemalan children as well. Girls are sexually assaulted and boys are recruited. According to UNICEF, there are about 46 children, most of them adolescents, murdered each month. While most of the deaths are caused by guns, the others are related to sexual assault, kidnapping and missing person reports, among others.
  9. The reason that gang violence is one of the causes affecting Guatemala’s women and children is that Guatemalan gangs operate on their own terms. In the Global Post, Rodriguez talks about how Guatemalan gangs are similar to L.A. gangs when they first started out. Rodriguez recalls, “In the early days of gangs in L.A., raping a woman was a good way to develop your reputation. I knew a guy who raped dozens of women.”
  10. Guatemalan authorities have arrested leaders associated with various gangs, but it does not seem to stop them. Most of the leaders just continue their operations from inside the jail, making it difficult for them to put an end to this vicious cycle.

The 10 factors about life expectancy in Guatemala for women and children can be solved through consistent use of better health care methods and stricter safety regulations.

With the help of more developed nations and various nongovernmental organization, the development in the country can be easily achieved.

Photo: Flickr