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This chapter presents an overview of general (all ages), premature (below 75 years old), and infant (below one year old) mortality in Belgium. All-cause and cause-specific mortality are analyzed for general and premature mortality.
The number of deaths in Belgium slightly increased between 2000 and 2019. Around 109,000 deaths occurred in 2019. In 2020, the number of deaths in Belgium peaked at more than 127,000 deaths due to the COVID-19 epidemic.
The age-adjusted mortality rate slowly decreased from 2000 to 2019, reaching 916.2 per 100,000 inhabitants in 2019. In 2020, the age-adjusted mortality rate increased to 1051.2 per 100,000 inhabitants.
The age-adjusted mortality rate is higher in men than in women, and higher in Wallonia and Brussels than Flanders.
Approximately half of deaths in both sexes are due to tumours or cardiovascular diseases. Tumours became the main cause of death in 2019. The main causes of death are ischaemic heart disease and lung cancer in men and dementia and cerebrovascular disease in women. Mortality due to mental and neurological diseases is increasing.
The age-adjusted premature mortality (defined here as mortality before age 75) decreased by 31% between 2000 and 2019. However, in 2020, the age-adjusted premature mortality increased by 10% for men and by 5% for women compared to 2019.
The age-adjusted premature mortality is much higher in men than in women (the sex ratio was 1.7 in 2019).
In 2019, the age-adjusted premature mortality rate was higher in Wallonia (+40%) and Brussels (+21%) than in Flanders. Those regional disparities increased in 2020, the age-adjusted premature mortality rate was 51% higher in Wallonia and 33% higher in Brussels compared to Flanders.
The conditions with the highest burden in term of years of life lost before 75 years are suicide, lung cancer, and ischemic heart diseases in men, and breast cancer, lung cancer, and suicide in women.
For most conditions, the premature mortality rates decreased between the years 2000 and 2019, except for lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) among women.
The causes contributing most to the higher premature mortality rates in the Walloon Region and in the Brussel Capital Region compared to the Flemish Region are ischemic heart disease in men and COPD in women.
In 2019, the infant mortality rate was 3.6 per thousand live births. Infant mortality has sharply declined over the last decennia in Belgium. Current rates and trends are similar in the three regions.