Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation

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Visualizing the massive toll of an abused drug seldom in the headlines | 

Booze
Fotopedia

The legalization of marijuana in Washington and Colorado has been big news around the country and the world.

These laws have spawned concerns that they could encourage more youths to use marijuana and lead to increased frequency of impaired driving. On the other hand, civil rights activists have endorsed marijuana legalization, noting that the law-enforcement approach has largely failed to make a dent in the drug abuse problem and that minorities are imprisoned more often than whites as a result of the prohibition of marijuana.

What about the impact of a drug that causes much greater health loss?

According to the Global Burden of Disease Study, alcohol was the fifth-highest risk factor for early death and disability worldwide in 2010. The screen grab below shows how alcohol ranked higher than high body mass index (an indicator of overweight and obesity), childhood underweight, and sedentary lifestyles (physical inactivity).

AlcoholGBDAlcoholGBD2

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Visualizing health funding gaps in West and Central Africa | 

Global Health Financing IHME
IHME

Earlier this week, Humanosphere reported on the overall trends in funding for global health – fairly steady, mostly flat the last few years, and perhaps in need of a re-focus.

But which countries need help the most on the health front?

That critical question came up at the April 8 launch event for this report from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation’s (IHME), Financing Global Health 2013: Transition in an Age of Austerity at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington, D.C.

The question about which countries deserve the most aid is a complex question. IHME director Chris Murray pointed to key regional funding gaps identified in the study.

Chris Murray
Chris Murray

“If you are thinking ahead, then who do we need to help the most?” asked Murray. “Central and Western Africa and a few other fragile states have the worst health outcomes. We might need to strategically rethink what we’re doing to address problems in countries who are most at risk.”

A related paper was also published the same day in the journal Health Affairs.  J. Stephen Morrison, Senior Vice President and Director of the Global Health Policy Center at CSIS, chaired the launch event. The panel featured Murray and USAID Assistant Administrator for Global Health Ariel Pablos-Méndez. Continue reading

Study shows global health funding steady, not always focused on biggest burdens | 

It’s fair to say that global health has been at the spearpoint of the aid and development agenda for the last 15 years or so, as funding for initiatives aimed at curbing AIDS, malaria, TB and other select diseases of poverty has swelled over the past decade and a half.

But funding has leveled off over the past few years, due to the global economic crisis and perhaps also to a re-thinking of the international anti-poverty agenda. A new report on Financing Global Health from the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation documents this transition (subtitle: Transition in an Age of Austerity) and includes some great visual illustrations of what’s going on.

Global Health Financing IHME
IHME

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Visualizing what we know – and don’t know – about child mortality in Africa | 

The significant progress made against child mortality around the world over the last two decades is frequently cited as one of the biggest success stories of international development.

Much more remains to be done, but it’s worth looking at what we know – and don’t know – about this propitious decline in child deaths.

Between 1990 and 2010, death rates among children under 5 decreased by 43% in sub-Saharan Africa, according to the Global Burden of Disease Study 2010 (GBD 2010). The screen grab below shows how deaths from different diseases and injuries in this age group decreased over time. Three major categories of diseases played key roles in driving this decline: diarrhea, lower respiratory infections, and other infectious diseases; neonatal disorders; and neglected tropical diseases and malaria.

Death rates in children under 5 years, sub-Saharan Africa, 1990-2010

Child Mortality Africa What interventions deserve credit for these declines? GBD researchers have not yet done a formal study to pinpoint all the reasons for the drop in child mortality, but a deep dive into the data can reveal likely causes. Continue reading

Visualizing gun deaths – Comparing the U.S. to rest of the world | 

JohnWayneWhen it comes to gun violence, the United States stands out.

President Obama’s nominee for surgeon general, Vivek Murthy, a renowned Boston-based physician, has advocated for stricter gun-control laws and referred to the U.S. rates of gun violence as a public health threat.  Murthy’s views have ignited opposition from the gun lobby and politicians on both sides of the aisle, virtually assuring an end to his bid to become the U.S.’s top public health official.

In any debate about gun control and violence prevention, it is useful to examine data on gun deaths.

How does the US stack up against other countries when it comes to homicides involving guns? The screen grab below, which uses findings from the Global Burden of Disease Study 2010, illustrates the  difference in firearm homicide rates between the US and other high-income countries. Adjusting for differences in population size, rates of homicides from guns were  6.6 times larger in the US than in Portugal, the country with one of the highest rates in Western Europe.

Firearm homicide rates in selected high-income countries, 2010

Gun Violence

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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 lessons learned in the global fight against obesity | 

Obese Chinese boys leap during an exercise to lose weight at a military training camp in Tianjin, China.
Obese Chinese boys leap during an exercise to lose weight at a military training camp in Tianjin, China.
AP

Global health and development discussions often focus on lessons that the developed world can “teach” the developing world.

With the welcome decline in extreme poverty worldwide, many nations that once had to worry most about hunger now are struggling to combat the harm of over-eating, eating the wrong things and lack of physical activity.

In today’s post, we’ll be exploring how Mexico and the US can learn from each other in the fight against obesity.

Mexico is a hotbed of experimentation. As explored in a Humanosphere article last year, it recently began taxing junk food and sodas in an attempt to tackle its growing obesity problem.

Health policy wonks, researchers, advocacy groups, and the beverage industry are keeping close tabs on the situation to see what happens. The stakes for each of these groups are high—a recent Politico article theorizes that if the taxes succeed, this could re-invigorate the debate on soda tax in the US.

Last week, the chief financial officer of Coca-Cola FEMSA, the Mexico-based bottler, said that the entire beverage industry’s sales of sugar-sweetened beverages in Mexico had dropped by 5% to 7% following the enactment of the taxes in Mexico. Continue reading

Visualizing the global rise of cancer | 

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

World Cancer Cases
WHO

The World Health Organization this week released its World Cancer Report, generating headlines such as:

NPR  Cancer Cases Rising At An Alarming Rate Worldwide

CNN WHO: Imminent global cancer ‘disaster’ reflects aging, lifestyle factors

Global cancer cases are rising mostly due to population growth and the fact that more people are living into older ages in low- and middle-income countries.

Experts warn that in countries with few resources, expensive chemotherapy is rarely an option, and stress that cancer prevention is the most cost-effective approach to combat the rising toll of this disease in these settings. Tools to prevent cancer range from reducing tobacco use through tighter regulation, to human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines to prevent cervical cancer, and hepatitis B and C vaccines to prevent liver cancer.

In today’s post, we will use data visualization tools based on the Global Burden of Disease (GBD) Study 2010 to visualize these changes in greater depth, looking at trends in different types of cancer over time and comparing patterns across age groups and countries. Continue reading