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New Global Disease Burden Data Should Inform Global Health Spending

“On Dec. 14, the Lancet together with the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation [IHME] will release their study on global burden of disease, injuries and risk factors in 2010,” Karl Hofmann, president and CEO of Population Services International, writes in a Devex opinion piece, adding, “These ‘gold standard’ data will quantify the world’s health problems by examining statistics for 291 diseases and injuries and 67 different risk factors for 21 regions across three time periods — 1990, 2005 and 2010.” Hofmann says, “The new health burden data are reference points for the units of currency that help us measure our impact, such as on the years of protection against unintended pregnancy, episodes of disease prevented, deaths averted, and years of healthy life saved, among many others.” He adds, “As global health implementers, it is important that these metrics inform our work, define our impact and demonstrate our value to donors, and more importantly, to those we serve.”

Hofmann says, “[I]t has never been more important to get the balance [between spending and effectiveness] right.” He adds, “It’s important that the global health community embrace a new paradigm — relevance — that will require us to use burden of disease data as a decisive criterion to inform our choices about which health conditions to target, where, and with whom.” He concludes, “The Lancet and IHME health burden data offer us a single common reference standard — a global health ‘gold standard’ — against which to benchmark our various health impact currencies. It is a necessary revaluation for better value in global health spending” (12/12).