A new WHO study presents the state of the world's health
5 November 2008 -- WHO publishes a new a study on the global burden of disease, with comparisons between deaths, diseases and injuries by region, age, sex and country income.
Transcript of the podcast
Veronica Riemer: You’re listening to the WHO podcast. My name is Veronica Riemer and this is episode number 52.
A new WHO study presents the state of the world's health.
This week, WHO published a new a study on the global burden of disease. It features comparisons between deaths, diseases and injuries by region, age, sex and country income for the year 2004. It also provides projections of deaths and burden of disease by cause and region to the year 2030. The study contains details of the top 10 causes of death and estimates for over 130 disease and injury causes. Dr Ties Boerma from the WHO Department of Measurement and Health Information Systems tells us more.
Dr Ties Boerma: It brings together all the country information for 193 Member States of WHO from death registration systems, on causes of death, from household surveys from cancer registries, from epidemiological research, from disease outbreaks systems. So all of that is brought together to make these global estimates of the burden of disease. And it focuses on death, on also years of life lost. So when people die is taken into account, and also disability. And it is the only real exercise that tries to weigh both death and the cost of disease in terms of disability of people who have loss of health because they are suffering from a certain chronic condition.
Veronica Riemer: This is a unique publication which has taken WHO experts over a year to compile. One of the first questions asked is why, when we are in 2008, are we publishing data relating to 2004? Dr Boerma explained the reason for this.
Dr Ties Boerma: The reason is that these data are generated in countries and it takes time before they actually become available. So even in, say, the high-income countries in Europe or OECD countries, if we want to have the cause of death information, for most countries we don't even have 2006 (data) available yet. Countries have a backlog of 2-3 years in publicizing their own information. If we look at the countries that don't have civil registration systems or other kinds of information systems that the high-income countries have, then the gap is even larger. Because most of the information that we can use comes from research studies which take a few years to get published.
Veronica Riemer: The report contains a wealth of information about causes of death, and compares different regions of the world. It brings disability into the picture and looks at lost life from disability as well as from premature mortality. Dr Colin Mathers, Coordinator for Epidemiology and Burden of Disease at WHO and lead author of the study:
Dr Colin Mathers: What is new in this report is a quite substantial revision of our understanding of the HIV epidemic in the world. And a somewhat lower estimate of the global impact of HIV in 2004 compared to previous estimates, particularly for some countries like India: quite substantial changes associated with new information. Diarrhoeal diseases remain one of the top 10 killers in the world. Although child deaths in the world have been reduced from around 30 million 20 years ago to 10 million now, over 2 million of those 10 million deaths are from diarrhoeal diseases. Kids who get infections from drinking or eating contaminated food or water, particularly unsafe water and hygiene are a major component here.
Veronica Riemer: The report also offers the projections of deaths and burden of disease by cause and region to the year 2030.
Dr Colin Mathers: For tobacco, we have already done some estimates. We project that by 2030 it will be responsible for around 10% of deaths in the world. Not quite at that level, yet there will be rising deaths in developing countries as the tobacco epidemic continues. The update builds in the revisions to HIV mortality and more optimistic projections of HIV deaths that UNAIDS and WHO have produced, which suggest that the epidemic may have peaked or will peak in the next five years or so. And then AIDS deaths will start to decline. Similarly, for TB, the Stop TB campaign projects that the continuous scale-up of the DOTS treatment will result in declining TB deaths.
Veronica Riemer: For more information about the global burden of disease or if you would like a list of the top 10 causes of death, go to the web site www.who.int/healthinfo/global_burden_disease
That's all for this episode of the WHO podcast. Thanks for listening. If you have any comments on our podcast or have any suggestions for future health topics drop us a line. Our email address is Podcast@who.int.
For the World Health Organization, this is Veronica Riemer in Geneva.