Monday, 25 November 2013

The most important infographic in global health

Find the original source on here

This is the most important infographic and image in global health right now.

I usually do not write commentary on this blog, preferring to just reblog.  However, this image is hugely important.  Other people have found this image, including Bill Gates's twitter feed.  Which is unlikely to have been sent by him, and largely misses the importance of this image.

The value of DALYs, which this infographic is based on, is that it seeks to measure the loss of life years across all human beings (humanity) due to premature death and morbidity.  It has many controversial aspects that are still open for debate, and it is often used in cost-effective analysis which is also questionable.  However, the really exciting thing about DALYs, and the important aspect of the work of the Institute of Health Metrics at the University of Washington, is that they make concrete the amorphous notion of suffering of the global poor/third world/ global health.  If want to know the GDP of a country, there are measurements that all feed into one number.  If you want to know a nation's debt, there is a number.  But if you wanted to know what a country's health looks like, or the health of all human beings in the world, there was no number, no picture.

This is the first image that I have seen that truly makes concrete how much of human lives are lost because of premature mortality and morbidity.  It also identifies the causes.  And, now, we can start a more informed global public discussion about what are the causes, how much will healthcare solve this problem, and how much do we have to go beyond healthcare and health systems to reduce this loss of human life years.  Once you understand that a preventable loss of a year of life is the preventable loss of one human being's ability to live a life they would like, the question of justice comes to the forefront.

Other people just see a list of diseases and lack of healthcare.  That is a real shame.

Want to Save Lives? You Need a Map of What’s Doing Us In

  • 9:30 AM
If sorrow were a landscape, here’s how it would look from a cruising altitude of 30,000 feet. This graphic maps the global cost of early mortality—some 1.7 billionyears of human life forfeited annually—sorted by cause of death. That’s 1.7 billion years of harvests and weddings, of factory work and music lessons and novels and new ideas that were supposed to happen and now won’t.
Infographic by Thomas Porostocky  |  Source: Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation
And get this: Worldwide, about 40 percent of that toll results from disorders (shown in yellow above) that could be avoided with basic medications, clean water, and neonatal care. As you read this, 3,000 young kids are dying from diarrhea that a few zinc tablets might have stopped. Cost: 38 cents per life.
You might wish you hadn’t read that. But it’s the kind of insight that policymakers and NGOs need in order to focus health resources where they can do the most good. That’s why the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the Univer­sity of Washington created the massive database on which this graphic is based. Known as the Global Burden of Disease, it quantifies the incidence and impact of every conceiv­able illness and injury. Want to see your own odds of dying from gunshot or animal attack? You can go to the GBD Compare website and find out.
But IHME doesn’t just tally up death rates, it estimates the years of life lost (YLLs) from all those deaths: A fatal pneumonia infection at age 3 erases many more future birthdays than a heart attack at 80. Adding in years lived with disability, the database provides the most comprehensive measure we have of the burden of disease, in terms of lost human potential. It’s not a pretty picture.
Luckily, policymakers are paying attention. Well-targeted campaigns are reducing mortality from infectious diseases and birth complications throughout the world (as shown by the light shading in the picture above). While more than a million people still die of malaria each year, mostly children in sub-Saharan Africa, that number is down more than 20 percent since 2005.
These are just a few of the insights offered by GBD Compare. The interactive
visualization tool lets you drill down on that global map to compare regions and countries, spot trends, or slice the data by demographic groups. And because the data is structured hierarchically, you can set the resolution to zoom in for more detail or zoom out for big-picture comparisons. The basic inter­face is easy to use, but there’s a helpful video tutorial if you want to dig deeper into the toolbox.
Here are are few screenshots from the website itself. Don’t be thrown by the different color scheme; the “tree map” layout is basically the same as in the artist’s rendering above. The labels are a bit cryptic here, but if you visit the site you can run your cursor over the map to see full descriptive info for every tile.

Monday, 11 November 2013

A Dream Deferred: The Right to Food in America

Original link to Huffington post can be found here

A Dream Deferred: The Right to Food in America

Posted: 10/30/2013 5:03 pm

This year our nation commemorated the fiftieth anniversary of the March on Washington and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech, giving us all occasion to reflect on his civil rights aspirations and the extent to which they have been fulfilled. But the persistence of hunger in America today brings to mind Dr. King's other dream -- that of ending poverty and realizing the full spectrum of human rights, including the right to food.
Dr. King understood that social justice cannot be achieved without economic justice. In March 1965 he declared: "Let us march on poverty until no American parent has to skip a meal so that their children may eat." In the months before his assassination, Dr. King spearheaded nationwide efforts to launch a multiracial Poor People's Campaign. "We are coming to Washington," he said. "We are coming to demand that the government address itself to the problem of poverty."
Although he did not live to see the Campaign, those of us who believed in his dream carried it forward. In May 1968 thousands of people occupied the National Mall and demanded economic justice in the form of fair wages, decent housing, quality health care and education, and access to adequate food. Nearly fifty years later, this dream remains deferred for far too many Americans. Most starkly, we continue to treat access to food as a privilege, instead of as a fundamental human right.
The world over, freedom from hunger and access to sufficient, nutritious food are recognized as human rights. These ideas are not foreign to the United States; they were inspired by our government's commitment to ensuring "freedom from want" in the wake of the Great Depression. Now, more than ever, we must reclaim these values and ensure the right to food for all Americans.
Last month, the USDA reported that 49 million Americans live in "food insecure" households, meaning they cannot afford adequate food for themselves or their families. In other words, nearly one in six individuals in the richest country in the world is struggling to put food on the table. Hunger in the United States is not the result of a shortage of food or resources -- it is the direct result of poverty perpetuated through policies that fail to prioritize Americans' fundamental needs.
On the heels of the USDA report, the House voted to cut $40 billion over the next ten years from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) -- the nation's largest anti-poverty program. Under the House version of the farm bill, 3.8 million individuals would lose their SNAP benefits in 2014 alone, and an estimated 210,000 children would be kicked off of free school lunch programs. On November 1, SNAP recipients will see an automatic decline in their benefits when a temporary boost to the program (voted in as part of the 2009 Recovery Act) ends.
The impact of these assaults on our nutrition assistance programs will be felt over a generation and possibly beyond. Children who do not receive adequate nutrition -- including prenatally -- are at risk of serious health and developmental problems. Hungry children struggle to learn in school and, according to a report by Feeding America, are far more likely to experience behavioral problems, increasing the chance that they will drop out of school and decreasing their lifetime earning potential. By failing to adequately feed our children, we are setting them up to fail.
This is a moral failing. It is also a violation of human rights.
As the House and Senate enter negotiations over the farm bill, we must call upon them to strengthen -- not undermine -- our food safety net. A recent study by the International Human Rights Clinic at NYU School of Law found that many food insecure households do not receive SNAP benefits because the program's eligibility requirements are drawn too narrowly. For households that do qualify, the benefits are simply insufficient to meet their food-related needs. On average, families on SNAP receive under $1.50 per person per meal.
We need to fortify SNAP, ensuring that it reaches all food insecure households and enables families to afford sufficient, nutritious food. In addition, we need to adopt and implement a national strategy to tackle the root causes of hunger in America today. At minimum, we must ensure a living wage so that individuals and families can provide for themselves.
Five years from now, when we commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the Poor People's Campaign, we will inevitably ask ourselves: How far have we come in fulfilling Dr. King's other dream?
Let us act now to end hunger and ensure the right to food for all.
Rev. Jesse L. Jackson Sr., a former aide to the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., is the president and founder of the RainbowPUSH Coalition.
Smita Narula is a human rights lawyer and professor and co-author of the studyNourishing Change: Fulfilling the Right to Food in the United States.