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Jul 8, 2013

Reflections on the Global Burden of Disease 2010 Estimates

Summary points of an article reviewing the Global Burden of Disease 2010 estimates: (Source:

:: Health data include many gaps, particularly relating to poorer areas of the world, so complex estimation techniques are needed to get overall global pictures.
:: Estimates of population health, however, carry their own uncertainties and may be flawed in some instances.
:: Here we present a range of reflections on the Global Burden of Disease 2010 estimates, highlighting their strengths as well as challenges for potential users.
:: In the long term, there can be no substitute for properly counting and accounting for all the world’s citizens, so that complex estimation techniques are not needed.

The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) and its partners recently completed what is probably the largest ever exercise undertaken in epidemiological modelling, the Global Burden of Disease 2010 (GBD-2010) estimates [1]. These estimates attempt to characterise loss of health from disease and injury, including the effects of some major risk factors, on a global basis. They will find widespread use in coming years and influence developments in global health. However, it is important to realise that “estimates are estimates, and not measurements”; they may perform better in some respects than others [2]. Here, as a group of independent experts, we comment on some of the major issues raised by this important work, while noting that it is impossible to cover all the wealth of detail involved in any critique. We take collective responsibility for these views, though many specific points come from individual specialists among the authors.

PLoS Medicine

  • Health data in low income countries?
  • Estimates of population health through modelling?
  • Denominator issues?


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