Volksgezondheid op de wereldkaart

SEATTLE – Nog geen 25 jaar geleden stond de volksgezondheid voor grote populaties er net zo voor als een dokter die zonder goede diagnose een patiënt probeert te behandelen. De ziektes en verwondingen die levens voortijdig afbreken en wijd en zijd lijden veroorzaken werden nog niet precieus in kaart gebracht.

Toentertijd publiceerden goedwillende pleitbezorgers van het leed van diverse ziekten sterftecijfers die hun hielpen fondsen en aandacht te verwerven. Maar toen al deze claims bij elkaar opgeteld werden bleek het totaalcijfer vele malen hoger dan het aantal mensen dat daadwerkelijk in een jaar gestorven was. En zelfs wanneer beleidsmakers wel over accurate data beschikten, betroffen deze gewoonlijk slechts de doodsoorzaak, en niet de ziekten die aan levenden schade berokkenden.

Om dit probleem aan te pakken lanceerden Alan Lopez en ik in 1990 het Global Burden of Disease-project (GBD). Beleidsmakers hebben informatie nodig over de ernstigste dreigingen voor de wereldgezondheid en hoe deze naar verloop van tijd veranderd zijn over leeftijdsgroepen en sekse, zodat ze kunnen verzekeren dat iedereen de kans krijgt het langste en gezondste leven mogelijk te leven.

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