Dr Natasha Azzopardi-Muscat from the Department of Health Services Management and WHO Collaborating Centre on Health Systems and Policies in Small States was recently invited to address an international conference held to mark the 20th anniversary of the Global Burden of Disease study organised by University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME). Conference keynotes were delivered by Bill Gates, Co-Chairman of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Dr. Jim Yong Kim, President of the World Bank.
The Global Burden of Disease is the world’s largest systematic, scientific effort to quantify the magnitude of health loss from all major diseases, injuries, and risk factors by age, sex, and population. With 2,303 collaborators in 130 countries and territories, the study examines 332 diseases and injuries and 84 risk factors and has helped transform health care policy in numerous countries. The latest papers published in The Lancet are available online.
In the paper entitled 'Measuring progress and projecting attainment on the basis of past trends of the health-related Sustainable Development Goals in 188 countries: an analysis from the Global Burden of Disease Study 2016' Malta was ranked in the 8th place worldwide.
In her address reflecting on the future direction for the Global Burden of Disease Study, Dr Azzopardi-Muscat acknowledged that the GBD study is a potent tool that documents success attained in the health sector. It also serves to keep decision-makers accountable helps to recognise problems in a timely manner. Dr Azzopardi-Muscat called for the GBD study to explore use of innovative approaches to data collection including the use of ‘Big Data’. She recommended the use of comparative case study approaches to better understand how countries with similar socio demographic and geographic indices perform differently in terms of health outcomes. Furthermore she highlighted the utility of small island state studies as sentinel laboratories to study the challenges arising from climate change and non-communicable diseases and appropriate policy responses.