Sixteen years ago the first edition of The Global Burden of Disease was released in hard cover. I remember lugging the 1,022 page edition, complete with tables of data, around campus as a masters of public health student at UC Berkeley. Professor Kirk Smith made us use the tables to calculate how disease patterns vary around the world, and perhaps most importantly how such data can be used to guide health policy decisions.
Fast-forward to 2012, where a tool from the Institute for Health Metrics Evaluation saves the need for lugging and data entry. It also makes it much easier to see the worldwide importance of finding therapies for some of the major diseases that are a focus of CIRM research such as HIV/AIDS, cancer and diabetes, among others.
You can play with this online tool here. It incorporates yesterday’s release of the 2010 Global Burden of Disease data into a fabulous interactive visualization display.
The tool allows one to analyze disease patterns by age, region of the world and disease type and to compare the patterns to those seen in 1990. I spent last night showing my wife and son how important some of the diseases CIRM is focused on developing treatments for are. We examined diabetes, HIV/AIDS and cancer to discoverer the following:
- North America ranks as the third highest region in the world for disability attributed to diabetes (note this figure include both Type I and II);
- HIV/AIDS is the leading killer of 30-39 year olds globally
- Cancer is the leading cause of death of 5-9 year old children in North America
I was pleased to see that the 2010 results were widely publicized and reporting good news on the health front. Specifically, that fewer children are dying or being disabled from preventable diseases. The Lancet reports:
Although 52·8 million deaths occurred in 2010 (in 1990, the figure was 46·5 million deaths), great progress is being made in population health. Life expectancies for men and women are increasing. A greater proportion of deaths are taking place among people older than 70 years. The burdens of HIV and malaria are falling. Far fewer children younger than 5 years are dying. Infectious diseases are increasingly being controlled. In some parts of the world, there has been substantial progress in preventing premature deaths from heart disease and cancer.
One can gain endless insights into world health and health policy decisions with this visualization tool. Best of all, no more late nights having to manually enter data from my text book.