health metrics


IHME study: Many girls in U.S. will have shorter lives than their mothers | 

In this screen grab from the IHME website, you can see some lifespan comparisons of women in 2009. Go to the Institute’s website to interact with this and other graphics to learn more.

By Claudia Rowe, special correspondent

Despite living in a country with one of the best health-care systems in the world, thousands of American girls will have shorter lives than their mothers, according to new research from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME).

In 661 areas of the country life expectancy for women has stagnated or decreased since 1999.

“It’s tragic,” said Dr. Ali Mokdad, who lead the team of researchers evaluating American health and mortality trends across the country.

Nationwide, they found a range of life-spans is so broad that in some areas, such as Stearns, Minn., life expectancies rivaled those in Japan, Hong Kong, and France – which are among the longest on earth.

But elsewhere, particularly in the rural south, average life-spans were lower than in Egypt, Indonesia, and Colombia, countries that spend far less on health care than the U.S.

Continue reading

Worldwide adult mortality trend, US on the down side | 

The UW’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation has taken a cue from the master of visual information Hans Rosling and presented global adult mortality vs income over time in a nice interactive map. Below is just a screen grab so go to the link to play the animated data set:

Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation

Worldwide adult mortality trends and income distribution over time

The United States is not doing too well, as this map shows, especially when you consider how wealthy we are and where we rank overall (near Slovakia, I think).

Globally, the adult mortality trends indicated a widening rise in inequality worldwide. As this report from IHME states, health disparities among countries and between men and women are widening.

The research also shows that the United States has fallen significantly behind other countries in reducing deaths. In 1990, the US ranked 34th in the world in female mortality and 41st in male mortality, but by 2010, it had dropped in the rankings to 49th for women and 45th for men. This puts it behind all of Western Europe and lower-income countries such as Chile, Tunisia, and Albania.
“With adult mortality, we are seeing this massive spread between the best and the worst off , unlike what we have seen with maternal mortality and what we are seeing with children, both of which have seen major progress since 1970,” said Dr. Christopher Murray, IHME Director.

Why is mental illness so low on the global health agenda? | 

Flickr, by Dierk Schaefer

Seattle recently hosted a big international meeting in which many of the world’s leaders in the fight to improve health met to parse data, debate statistical methods and struggle toward consensus aimed at informing the global health agenda.

Given this focus on data, are the biggest contributors to the global burden of disease also getting the most attention and resources?

Consider two major causes of death and disability worldwide — maternal mortality and mental illness.

Today, the international community, or at least the global health community, has made reducing the number of maternal deaths and complications in childbirth worldwide a top priority. The Gates Foundation has made this a primary mission of its global health program. This priority, which really targets both mothers and children, represents two of the UN’s eight Millennium Development Goals.

Maternal health is wisely regarded as a critical, high-value goal for global health because of the important (and not always measurable) magnified benefits to a family and community that come from focusing on women’s reproductive health and the health of newborns.

Yet, surprisingly, mental illness actually kills and maims more young mothers worldwide.

Continue reading

Taking the measure of global health: Five lessons learned | 

Institute for Health Metrics Evaluation

Crunching numbers, fighting disease

Many, if not most, of the top people in global health were in Seattle last week.

Some 600 people from all around the world were here for the Global Health Metrics & Evaluation conference. Participants discussed the evidence for maternal mortality rates declining worldwide, the difficulty of tracking malaria and a host of other issues that help set the global health agenda.

Critical issues of global importance. But they didn’t get much news coverage. Why not?

I have one theory, and five lessons learned, which I will explain by first recalling a car accident.

Years ago, I was T-boned by another driver. He had been blinded by the sun (or, since it’s gray Seattle, maybe alarmed at the big bright thing in the sky) and slammed his car into my car, driver’s side. My head hit the window before I was flung to other side as the car crumpled. Perhaps it was fortunate, though I hasten to add ill-advised, that I wasn’t wearing a seat belt. Continue reading

Lancet editor Richard Horton says global health getting weird, or maybe a little too American | 

The editor of the British medical journal The Lancet, Richard Horton, gave the closing speech at the Global Health Metrics and Evaluation meeting in Seattle on Wednesday.

Horton said: “There’s something weird going on in the field of global health science.”

What’s weird, he says, is that the center of gravity in global health research is increasingly shifting away from the traditional multilateral institutions of public health based in Europe (like the World Health Organization?) and is increasingly dominated by American academic institutions (like the Gates Foundation-funded Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation here in Seattle?). Continue reading

Number-crunchers take a hard look at global health | 

Institute for Health Metrics Evaluation

Crunching numbers, fighting disease

Hoo-boy, where do I begin trying to write about a bunch of people who mostly talk numbers and statistics?

How about we start with the fact that much of the time in global health it can seem like we are punching at perceived shadows in a dark room?

Oh, and also it can be a matter of life and death.

That is, global health projects are launched aimed at fighting a particular disease or problem based on the assumption that, first, it’s clear what the problem is and, second, it’s clear how to solve it. Got a problem with malaria? Give everyone a bednet. HIV? Just give everyone drugs. Malnutrition? Food ….

Of course, most of us know (even without knowing all the details) that nothing in life is ever that simple. Continue reading

Experts question PATH’s claims of success against malaria in Zambia | 

Flickr, by ACJ1

One big malaria success story is a program in Zambia run by Seattle-based PATH.

It has involved a rapid expansion of the use of bed nets, insecticides and other measures aimed at preventing mosquitoes from spreading the deadly parasitic disease.

Called MACEPA, the Malaria Control and Evaluation Partnership in Africa, PATH and Zambian officials claim it is having a big impact, especially when it comes to reducing the number of children killed by malaria.

Some global health experts, however, have doubts about those claims of success.  And, they have had a devil of a time trying to get data on the program from PATH and the Zambian government to check up on these claims of success.


Kent Campbell

“The bottom line is that the program is working well. We consider it a model approach that we hope to see widely adopted across Africa,” said Dr. Kent Campbell, director of MACEPA for PATH and a former top malaria expert for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Continue reading

Global health funding still healthy, but may need better focus | 

Despite the economic downturn, funding for development assistance targeting health issues internationally has continued to grow — though more slowly and with a few anomalies that may deserve more scrutiny.

“Surprising, global health spending continued to grow in 2010,” said Chris Murray, director of the UW’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation and lead author of a new report “Financing Global Health 2010.


Global health funding by source (e.g. BMGF is Gates Foundation, GFATM is Global Fund)

Continue reading