A new forecasting model with the ability to predict long-range health scenarios suggests a 70 per cent reduction in global deaths from infectious diseases by 2060, despite a significant growth in population.

According to research published Friday in the Bulletin of the World Health Organization, the new forecasting model can provide data on a wide selection of long-range health questions.

Will increased car ownership mean more deaths on the road, despite safer vehicles? How will increased smoking habits in developing countries affect the health of children? These are the kinds of questions scientists and health-professionals can now research, according to the paper.

"The global health community needs long-term integrated forecasts to help set priorities and measure achievements," co-author Randall Kuhn, from the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver, said in a press release.

"Until now, no forecast has covered such a wide range of nations over a long time span. This model helps us to understand the complex effect of many factors on population health."

The forecasting model merges health statistics with other data, including economic growth, fertility and education.

The data on death and diseases used in the forecasting model was gathered by WHO from 193 countries.

The new health model has some optimistic health forecasts for the future, suggesting "particular improvement in poor regions, especially sub-Saharan Africa" from a significant decline in HIV/AIDs and communicable diseases.

Unfortunately for men in wealthy countries, the forecast suggests a "gradual slowing of improvements in life expectancy."

The model predicts a global population of between nine billion and just over 10 billion by 2060.

Other forecasts in the paper:

  • Adult mortality in sub-Saharan Africa should improve significantly because of progress against HIV/AIDS by 2060, even in the most pessimistic scenario
  • A 1.6 C increase in global temperature from 2005 to 2060
  • Increases in health will be a boon to the economies of Southern Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, who will have the largest increases in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) from now until 2060