Global Health Observatory (GHO)

Disability-adjusted life year (DALY) rates

DALY rates by region, 2004

Mortality does not give a complete picture of the burden of disease borne by individuals in different communities. The summary measure used to give an indication of the burden of disease is the DALY. One DALY represents the loss of the equivalent of one year of full health. Using DALYs, the burden of diseases that cause premature death but little disability (eg. drowning or measles) can be compared to that of diseases that do not cause death but do cause disability (e.g. cataract causing blindness).

The high levels of burden of disease for the WHO African, South-East Asia and Eastern Mediterranean regions compared to other regions are predominantly due to communicable diseases, and maternal, perinatal and nutritional conditions, although injury DALY rates are also higher in these regions. Eastern European low-and middle-income countries have a substantially higher noncommunicable disease burden than high-income countries. These countries also have the highest proportion of burden due to injuries of all the regions, followed by the low- and middle income countries of the Americas.


DALY rates by country, 2004

Mortality does not give a complete picture of the burden of disease borne by individuals in different communities. The summary measure used to give an indication of the burden of disease is the DALY. One DALY represents the loss of the equivalent of one year of full health. Using DALYs, the burden of diseases that cause early death but little disability (eg. drowning or measles) can be compared to that of diseases that do not cause death but do cause disability (e.g. cataract causing blindness).

The global average burden of disease across all regions in 2004 was 237 DALYs per 1000 population, of which about 60% was due to premature death and 40% to non-fatal health outcomes. Measured in DALYs, 36% of the total disease and injury burden for the world in 2004 involved children aged less than 15 years, and almost 50% involved adults aged 15–59 years. The disease burden for children falls almost entirely in low- and middle-income countries. While the proportion of the total burden of disease borne by adults aged 15–59 years is similar in both groups of countries, the remaining burden is predominantly among those aged 60 years and older in high-income countries.

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