HUMAN health is improving globally at a remarkable pace, but progress has lagged in some areas, a new study published in the British medical journal The Lancet concluded.
The “Global Burden of Disease, Injuries, and Risk Factors (GBD) 2015” study highlighted areas of public health where significant improvements have been made in recent years, such as more rapid development of vaccines, but also identified a number of persistent challenges where “more intervention is needed from governments and donors.”
The overall study is a collection of several separate research efforts involving a total of 1,870 researchers from 127 countries. The research revealed large differences between regions and countries, which it said was an expected result, but also somewhat unanticipated, “wide variations between the progress observed in countries compared to what would be expected based on those countries’ level of development,” the study said.
The study pointed out that in South Asia, for example, most countries did better than expected at reducing health loss from stroke (India, Pakistan) and lower respiratory infections (Bangladesh, Nepal). But India performed much worse than expected on tuberculosis, while Bangladesh did poorly on drowning. All countries in South Asia did much worse than expected at reducing deaths in children under five years old, with India recording the largest number of under-five deaths of any country in 2015, at 1.3 million. However, Bangladesh improved maternal survival much faster than expected, while India and Nepal fared poorly.
As another example highlighted by the study’s conclusions, in China in 2015 the numbers of people affected and the costs of diabetes, heart disease, and depression were much lower than expected, but levels of premature death and illness due to liver cirrhosis were three times higher than expected. In contrast to the South Asia region, China also did better than expected at reducing child mortality in 30 out of 33 provinces and municipalities in 2015.