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Chapter 002. Global Issues in Medicine (Part 4)

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Nearly 20% (10.6 million) of the 56 million dead in 2001 were children

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  1. Chapter 002. Global Issues in Medicine (Part 4) Nearly 20% (10.6 million) of the 56 million dead in 2001 were children
  2. Among persons 15–59 years of age (Fig. 2-2), noncommunicable diseases accounted for more than half of all deaths in all regions except South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, where communicable diseases, maternal and perinatal conditions, and nutritional deficiencies together accounted for one-third and two- thirds of all deaths, respectively. The 15- to 59-year-olds with noncommunicable conditions in low- and middle-income countries faced a 30% greater risk of death from their conditions than did their peers in high-income countries. In this age group, injuries accounted for 25% of all deaths; Europe and Central Asia registered even higher rates, with injuries accounting for one-third of all deaths. Overall, death rates in this age group declined between 1990 and 2001 in all regions except Europe and Central Asia, where cardiovascular diseases and injuries have caused increased mortality, and sub-Saharan Africa, where the impact of HIV/AIDS in this age cohort has been particularly devastating. Noncommunicable diseases accounted for almost 60% of all deaths in 2001 but, because of the later onset of these diseases, accounted for only 40% of years of life lost. In contrast, because they occur more often in younger people, injuries accounted for 12% of years of life lost but for only 9% of deaths. Overall, males
  3. had an 11% higher death rate than females as well as a 15% higher rate of years of life lost; these figures reflect the earlier age of death of males worldwide. Notably, almost half of the disease burden in middle- and low-income countries in 2001 derived from noncommunicable disease—an increase of 10% since 1990. Compared with years of life lost, there is greater uncertainty in calculating years of life lived with disability for specific conditions. Best estimates from 2001 reveal that, while the prevalence of diseases common in older populations (e.g., dementia and musculoskeletal disease) was higher in high-income countries, the disability experienced as a result of cardiovascular diseases, chronic respiratory diseases, and the long-term impact of communicable diseases was greater in low- and middle-income countries. Thus, predictably, in most low- and middle-income countries, people both lived shorter lives and experienced disability and poor health for a greater proportion of their lives. Indeed, 45% of the overall burden of disease occurred in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, which together comprise only one-third of the global population. In its analysis of risk factors for ill health, the GBD project found that undernutrition was the leading cause of loss of DALYs in both 1990 and 2001. In
  4. an era that has seen obesity become a major health concern in so many developed countries, the persistence of undernutrition is surely cause for great consternation. Our inability to feed the hungry indicts many years of failed development projects and must be addressed as a problem of the highest priority. Indeed, no health care initiative, however generously funded and scientifically justified, will be effective without adequate nutrition. The GBD analysis was used as the basis for the second edition of Disease Control Priorities in Developing Countries (DCP2). Published in 2006, DCP2 is a document of stunning breadth and ambition, providing cost-effectiveness analyses for >100 interventions and including 21 chapters focused on strategies for strengthening health systems. Cost-effectiveness analyses that compare two relatively equal interventions and facilitate the best choices under constraint are important; however, as both resources and ambitions for global health grow, cost-effectiveness analyses (particularly those based on past conditions) must not hobble the increased worldwide commitment to provide resources and accessible services to all who need them. To illustrate this point, we turn in greater detail to AIDS, which has become, in the course of the last three decades, the world's leading infectious cause of death during adulthood.
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