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    LAC Health Stats, Trends and Trivia

    By Keith R | June 21, 2008

    Topics: Health Issues | No Comments »

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    Which Latin American or Caribbean nation smokes or drinks the most? In which are you more likely to die from cancer than infectious diseases such as malaria or dengue? Which has the highest percentage of obese people? Which spends the most on the health of their citizens?

    If you you’ve ever wondered about such questions, there’s a place where you can find some of the answers you crave.

    In late May the World Health Organization (WHO) released the latest edition of its annual World Health Statistics. The WHO annual provides a good basic set of comparable health data for all nations, including some not listed in the Pan American Health Organization’s (PAHO) latest (2007) set of basic indicators, Health Situation in the Americas. The WHO annual also provides a picture of how the Americas stack up against other regions in the world.

    There are some limitations to the WHO data set, however. Child mortality cause figures are from 2000, adult alcohol consumption data is from 2003, neonatal mortality figures from 2004, health expenditure data from 2005. Much of the health service coverage, health service resources, obesity and condom use data is missing for LAC states, and there are major gaps in some of the socioeconomic data such as adult literacy rates.

    You can fill in some (but far from all) of these gaps through the national sources you’ll find listed on the health data page in the new Temas Tool Section.

    Ten Trends/Issues Highlighted by WHO

    The WHO annual prefaces the pages of stats with discussion of what it calls “ten highlights” emerging from the global data. One of these deals only with Europe and two only with Africa, neither of which is a focus of The Temas Blog. [I must state for the record, though, that I was disappointed that the WHO discussion on malaria focused solely on Africa, when it remains a significant problem in LAC as well.] A fourth, the one that WHO chose to headline in its press releases (see below), is a global shift from deaths caused by infectious disease to those caused by chronic non-communicable disease (heart conditions, stroke, cancer, etc.). This is not news to longtime readers of The Temas Blog. A fifth, that tobacco consumption must be cut because it is the largest single cause of preventable death in the world today, also is not news to Temas Blog readers.

    So what are the other five?

    Factoid Gems from the Report

    Okay, let’s test your knowledge of health in LAC!


    From the World Health Organization (WHO):

    Noncommunicable diseases now biggest killers

    Chronic conditions like heart disease, stroke kill more, says WHO’s World health statistics 2008

    The global burden of disease is shifting from infectious diseases to noncommunicable diseases, with chronic conditions such as heart disease and stroke now being the chief causes of death globally, according to a new WHO report published today. The shifting health trends indicate that leading infectious diseases – diarrhoea, HIV, tuberculosis, neonatal infections and malaria – will become less important causes of death globally over the next 20 years.

    World health statistics 2008 is based on data collected from WHO’s 193 Member States. This annual report is the most authoritative reference for a set of 73 health indicators in countries around the world. These are the best available data and they are essential for painting the global picture of health and how it is changing.

    “We are definitely seeing a trend towards fewer people dying of infectious diseases across the world,” said Dr Ties Boerma, Director of the WHO Department of Health Statistics and Informatics. “We tend to associate developing countries with infectious diseases, such as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. But in more and more countries the chief causes of death are noncommunicable diseases, such as heart disease and stroke.”

    The statistical report documents in detail the levels of mortality in children and adults, patterns of morbidity and burden of disease, prevalence of risk factors such as smoking and alcohol consumption, use of health care, availability of health care workers, and health care financing. It also draws attention to important issues in global health, including:

    World health statistics 2008 is the official record of data produced by WHO’s technical programmes and regional offices in close consultation with countries and in collaboration with researchers and development agencies. In publishing these statistics, WHO underlines continuing health challenges and provides an evidence base for strategies to improve global public health.


    Desde la Organización Mundial de la Salud (OMS):

    Las enfermedades no transmisibles ya son las que más víctimas causan en el mundo

    Las afecciones crónicas como las cardiopatías y el accidente cerebrovascular causan más víctimas, según las Estadísticas Sanitarias Mundiales 2008 de la OMS

    La carga mundial de morbilidad está pasando de las enfermedades infecciosas a las enfermedades no transmisibles; las afecciones crónicas como las cardiopatías y el accidente cerebrovascular son hoy por hoy las principales causas de defunción en todo el mundo, según un nuevo informe de la OMS publicado hoy. Este cambio en las tendencias sanitarias indica que las principales enfermedades infecciosas (diarrea, VIH, tuberculosis, infecciones del recién nacido y paludismo) perderán importancia como causas de defunción a escala mundial durante los próximos 20 años.

    Las Estadísticas Sanitarias Mundiales 2008 se basan en los datos recopilados en los 193 Estados Miembros de la OMS. Este informe anual es la referencia más autorizada respecto de un conjunto de 73 indicadores sanitarios en países de todo el mundo. Se trata de los mejores datos disponibles, indispensables para describir el panorama mundial de la salud y su evolución.

    “No cabe duda de que se observa una tendencia hacia la disminución de la mortalidad por enfermedades infecciosas en todo el mundo,” ha afirmado el Dr. Ties Boerma, Director del Departamento de Datos y Estadísticas de la OMS. “Tendemos a asociar a los países en desarrollo con las enfermedades infecciosas, como el VIH/SIDA, la tuberculosis y el paludismo, pero cada vez son más los países donde las principales causas de defunción son enfermedades no transmisibles como las cardiopatías y el accidente cerebrovascular.”

    El informe estadístico documenta en detalle los niveles de mortalidad en niños y adultos, las pautas de morbilidad y la carga de morbilidad, la prevalencia de factores de riesgo como el consumo de tabaco y alcohol, el uso de la atención sanitaria, la disponibilidad de personal de salud y la financiación sanitaria. También pone de manifiesto importantes aspectos de la salud mundial, entre ellos los siguientes:

    Estadísticas Sanitarias Mundiales 2008 es el registro oficial de los datos producidos por los programas técnicos y las oficinas regionales de la OMS en estrecha consulta con los países y en colaboración con investigadores y organismos de desarrollo. Con la publicación de estas estadísticas, la OMS pone de relieve los problemas sanitarios persistentes y ofrece una base de pruebas científicas para las estrategias encaminadas a mejorar la salud pública mundial.

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