Do you feel healthy? You’re definitely in the minority, according to the results of a study that was recently published.
Although the Global Burden of Disease Study was conducted in 2013, its results were just published, and the result may be both surprising and depressing. Over 95% of our world’s population has at least one medical issue. In addition, more than a third of us suffer from more than five health-related conditions.
The purpose of the study, which was undertaken by a team at the University of Washington, was to calculate an updated estimate of disease and injuries. It used data from over 35,000 sources to look at disease and illness prevalence in 188 countries from 1990-2013. The data will be used to estimate how many healthy years we lose due to illness.
The results were staggering. Researchers were able to provide global estimates for 301 diseases and assess effects of 2,337 other health issues that stem from those disorders. Over the 23 years during which the study was conducted, the number of people with 10 or more conditions rose by 52%, as well.
Almost half of the issues globally are forms of musculoskeletal disorders or mental disorders. In 2013, two of the top 10 disability contributors in every country were lower back pain and major depression. In fact, 30-35% of chronically ill people also had a diagnosable mental illness. Perhaps the most important finding of the study was that the rates of disability are not declining as fast as the death rates. This illustrates the need for medical professionals to find more ways to cope with different disabilities.
For example, in Venezuela more emphasis is being placed on medical care. In recent years, the economic crisis has made supplies as simple as needles, prescription medication, or bandages hard to come by. Doctors from the United States are starting to work with Venezuelan teams on new surgeries and to provide their own assistance.
So many children in Venezuela and other unstable countries are dying because their doctors don’t have access to life-saving surgeries. With the the findings of the UW study, many hope it will be the dawn of a new age. Working together as global citizens, we can help each other fight these disorders and increase the chance of living a long and healthful life for many people.