Collecting and comparing health data from across the globe is a way to describe health problems, identify trends and help decision-makers set priorities.
Studies describe the state of global health by measuring the burden of disease – the loss of health from all causes of illness and deaths worldwide. They detail the leading causes of deaths worldwide and in every region, and provide information on more than 130 diseases and injuries across the world.
Global family planning expert Leslie Heyer is one of many advocates who warns that the funding cuts will have devastating consequences for women and their families, especially in the developing world. When women don’t have the ability to plan their pregnancies, she said, they and their unborn babies suffer higher physical and mental health risks, higher risk of abuse, and lower education levels for themselves and for their children.
Heyer is the founder of Cycle Technologies, a provider of family-planning tools to women worldwide. Some of Cycle’s methods – like CycleBeads and Dot – provide forms of contraception requiring nothing more than a mobile phone.
Heyer said these digital options can be accessible, cost-effective alternatives to traditional contraceptive methods, which are often reliant on fragile supply systems and subjected to restrictions under policymakers.
Of the 56.4 million deaths worldwide in 2015, more than half (54%) were due to the top 10 causes. Ischaemic heart disease and stroke are the world’s biggest killers, accounting for a combined 15 million deaths in 2015. These diseases have remained the leading causes of death globally in the last 15 years.
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease claimed 3.2 million lives in 2015, while lung cancer (along with trachea and bronchus cancers) caused 1.7 million deaths. Diabetes killed 1.6 million people in 2015, up from less than 1 million in 2000. Deaths due to dementias more than doubled between 2000 and 2015, making it the 7th leading cause of global deaths in 2015.
Lower respiratory infections remained the most deadly communicable disease, causing 3.2 million deaths worldwide in 2015. The death rate from diarrhoeal diseases almost halved between 2000 and 2015, but still caused 1.4 million deaths in 2015. Similarly, tuberculosis killed fewer people during the same period, but is still among the top 10 causes with a death toll of 1.4 million. HIV/AIDS is no longer among the world’s top 10 causes of death, having killed 1.1 million people in 2015 compared with 1.5 million in 2000.
Road injuries killed 1.3 million people in 2015, about three-quarters (76%) of whom were men and boys.