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Blog Post Examines How Data Can Help Estimate Statistical Impact Of Health Status, Risks Globally

Brookings Institution: Is smoking more harmful than AIDS?
Wolfgang Fengler, lead economist for trade and competitiveness at the World Bank, and Katharina Fenz, research analyst at the World Data Lab, discuss the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation’s (IHME) Global Burden of Disease database and highlight the ability to use its data to calculate the statistical impact of health status and risks in countries around the world. The authors write, “Building on the demographic platform, we have mapped the impact of several health variables that can be applied to every person in the world. We can estimate, on average, how many years of life a smoker will lose and how many years they would gain by avoiding the habit. And we can compare the results with (or combine them to) the outcomes of other risks or conditions, such as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria, diabetes, or hepatitis. Years of life lost or gained depend on how long you can expect to live in the first place, as well as on the quality of the health system in the country in which you live, as well as your gender” (3/27).

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