Global Burden of Disease

RECENT POSTS

Visualizing the global burden of mental illness in women | 

Mental Illness
Flickr, porschelinn

Mental health problems have a profound impact on men and women worldwide, but the toll of these diseases weighs most heavily on women. Worldwide, depression is responsible for more healthy years lost than HIV/AIDS or malaria in women of all ages.

Globally, depression (also known as major depressive disorder, or MDD) was the top cause of disability among females in 2010 (see screen grab). Disability from depression increased by 37% in females between 1990 and 2010. Anxiety, another mental disorder, ranked sixth. In comparison, depression and anxiety were the second- and 11th-leading causes of disability in males, respectively, in 2010. Clearly, mental health is an important issue for males as well as females, but these diseases are more prominent in females. In 2010, the rate of healthy years lost from depression was 1.7 times higher in females than in males.

Top 10 causes of disability globally, females, 2010

women mental health
IHME

Looking beyond causes of disability by factoring in fatal diseases, depression continues to stand out as a leading cause of healthy years lost in females. Continue reading

Visualizing health inequalities down under: Australia’s Aborigines | 

Guest post by Katie Leach-Kemon, a policy translation specialist from the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.

When a study comes out saying that your country has some of the lowest levels of smoking among rich countries, it’s tempting to pat yourself on the back and bask in the glory of your achievement. But for Australia, this isn’t good enough.

Australia’s health officials know that country-wide smoking statistics – estimated at 17% in 2012 according to researchers at the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (see screen grab below) – mask a smoking epidemic among a disadvantaged subset of the Australian population, Aboriginal Australians and Torres Strait Islanders.

Smoking patterns by country, both sexes, 2012

Australia IHME 1
IHME, UW

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Visualizing tobacco’s impact on children in China | 

Guest post by Katie Leach-Kemon, a policy translation specialist from the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.

January 2014 marks the 50th anniversary of the US Surgeon General’s Report on Smoking and Health, hailed as the first report to establish a definitive link between smoking and cancer and heart disease. Many academic journals, advocacy groups, and government officials around the United States are seizing the opportunity of the anniversary to assess progress made in curbing tobacco use globally and determine how much more work must be done.

This week, researchers at the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation published a study tracking smokers and cigarettes consumed from 1980 to 2012. They also launched an interactive data visualization tool, shown below, and a 5-minute video tutorial that allows you to explore the study’s findings at the global, regional, and country level.

China Tobacco

This week, we’ll focus on a major political and economic powerhouse who is also a key driver of global smoking rates – China. In 2012, the Chinese accounted for 29% of the world’s smokers. Watch the short video below to see how China stacks up in comparison to other countries in the world.

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Visualizing the toll of bad blood: It’s not just about preventing mother and child deaths | 

Guest post by Katie Leach-Kemon, a policy translation specialist from the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.

Mother and child, Ethiopia
Mother and child, Ethiopia
Flickr, subcomandanta

For many members of the global health community, the term “maternal and child health” translates into saving the lives of women and children.

But to fully realize the mission of improving the health of this population in particular, we have to think about more than just preventing death. What is one of the leading causes of disability worldwide? Women and children, particularly those who are poor, disproportionately suffer from a disease that causes substantial disability: Anemia.

Anemia, which literally (in Greek) means lack of blood, is about starving the body of oxygen. Red blood cells carry oxygen to cells in the human body thanks to a protein known as hemoglobin, which contains iron.

Women and children suffering from low iron – whether due to malnutrition or other causes – end up suffering from anemia, essentially cellular asphyxiation.

A new study reported that in 2010, anemia as a whole accounted for around 9% of years lived with disability worldwide, making it an even greater cause of disability than depression. Iron-deficiency anemia, the type of anemia that causes the most disability, is associated with lower cognitive performance, difficulty concentrating, low productivity, weakness, and fatigue. It often goes undiagnosed, unrecognized even as it quietly strangles. Continue reading

Visualizing death and disease from lack of sanitation | 

Guest post by Katie Leach-Kemon, a policy translation specialist from the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.

toilet mrlego54
Flickr, mrlego54

Earlier this week we marked World Toilet Day, created to raise awareness of the fact that billions of people around the world lack access to this basic necessity. The day is not so much about toilets as it is one of many attempts aimed at making sanitation a development priority worldwide.

Recent articles in news outlets such as CNN, Al Jazeera, and The Hindu discuss the importance of sanitation for everything from preventing diarrhea to protecting women from sexual assault and promoting girls’ education. In Humanosphere’s World Toilet Day post, we noted that the World Bank estimates that poor sanitation costs the globe an estimated $2.6 billion every year in lost productivity (a word economists use to tally up, among other things, the cost of death and disability).

Today’s post explores the extent to which poor sanitation contributes to the death toll in developing countries.

We’ll also explore developing countries’ progress in reducing deaths from poor sanitation, also known as “unimproved sanitation.” In 2010, an estimated 243,586 deaths in developing countries were attributable to poor sanitation. Lack of an adequate toilet contributes to deadly conditions such as diarrheal diseases and typhoid. Continue reading

Visualizing progress on 3 Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) | 

Guest post by Katie Leach-Kemon, a policy translation specialist from the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.

MDGsProgress toward the current Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and establishing new goals after 2015 are a hot topic of discussion this week at the UN General Assembly in New York City.

In today’s post, we’ll use Global Burden of Disease Study 2010 (GBD 2010) data to explore how much progress countries have made in three key health MDGs, 4, 5 and 6, the first two focused on reducing child mortality and maternal mortality while the latter is on halting the spread of diseases such as HIV/AIDS and malaria.

MDG 6 is arguably the highest-profile goal and one that’s seen tremendous progress – halting or reversing the spread of HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria. By 2010, antiretroviral therapy financed by country governments and donors had succeeded in reversing the rise in HIV/AIDS deaths at the global level.

Below is a figure showing donor funding (also known at IHME as development assistance for health, or DAH) for HIV/AIDs from IHME’s report Financing Global Health 2012: The End of the Golden Age?

Funding HIV AIDS

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Visualizing the burden of disease in the Middle East and North Africa | 

Guest post by Katie Leach-Kemon, a policy translation specialist from the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.

What is the state of health, or burden of disease trends, in the Middle East and North Africa?

A regional report entitled The Global Burden of Disease: Generating Evidence, Guiding Policy – Middle East and North Africa Regional Edition, published last week by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) and the World Bank, highlighted the rapid transitions in health patterns in the region between 1990 and 2010:

  • People in the Middle East and North Africa are living longer than ever before, but they are living more years with disability from causes such as low back pain, depression and anxiety, and diabetes (see the transition in this video or view it yourself using IHME’s online visualization tool).
  • Non-communicable diseases cause much more premature death and disability (also known as disability-adjusted life years, or DALYs) than in the past (diseases such as ischemic heart disease, low back pain, and depression increased by 44%, 77%, and 58%, respectively, as shown by the blue bars in Figure 7 from the report, shown below.

GBD N. Africa MidEast Continue reading

Data show indoor air pollution a major killer of kids | 

Guest post by Katie Leach-Kemon, a policy translation specialist from the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, on indoor air pollution and child mortality.

Indian leaders from the public health, environmental, and security sectors have been urging government action to reduce household or indoor air pollution from solid fuels as a major contributor to death early in life.

India slum cooking
Mike Urban

Household air pollution caused 3.5 million deaths worldwide in 2010, many of which were in young children. In India, an estimated 100, 411 children died as a result of household air pollution that same year.

Burning solid fuels such as wood and dung for cooking is a leading risk factor for lower respiratory infections. Lower respiratory infections include deaths caused by influenza, haemophilus influenzae type B, pneumonia, respiratory syncytial virus, and other respiratory infections. A detailed breakdown of deaths caused by these different viruses and bacteria can be found in the published Global Burden of Disease studies.

Household air pollution is attributable to more than 50% of deaths from lower respiratory infections among children under five globally. Continue reading