WHO: Nearly half of deaths worldwide now have recorded cause

Of the estimated 56 million deaths recorded globally in 2015, approximately 27 million were registered with a cause, according to data from WHO’s annual World Health Statistics report.

In contrast, only about one-third of all deaths had a recorded cause in 2005.

According to WHO, countries can use cause-of-death information to track public health trends, plan interventions to improve health and assess whether the interventions are working. Several countries made significant progress in collecting this data, including China, Turkey and the Islamic Republic of Iran, where 90% of deaths had cause-of-death information in 2015 vs. 5% in 1999.

Marie-Paule Kieny
Marie-Paule Kieny

“If countries don’t know what makes people get sick and die, it’s a lot harder to know what to do about it,” Marie-Paule Kieny, PhD, WHO’s assistant director-general for health systems and innovation, said in the release. “WHO is working with countries to strengthen health information systems and to enable them to better track progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals.”

In addition to improvements in cause-of-death reporting, other data in the World Health Statistics report showed progress towards universal health coverage. The biggest improvements were observed in coverage of HIV treatment, which was administered to 18.2 million people living with HIV by mid-2016, and insecticide-treated bed nets to prevent malaria infection, which increased from 34% in 2010 to 60% in 2015. WHO also reported that from 2000 to 2015, the percentage of people with tuberculosis who were identified and received treatment increased from 23% to 49%, and global coverage of three doses of diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine, a proxy for full immunization among children, increased from 72% to 86%.

Another dimension of universal health coverage is how much money people pay out of pocket for health services. Most recent data from 117 countries showed that, on average, 9.3% of people spent more than 10% of their household budget on health care, which is “likely to expose a household to financial hardship,” the release stated.

“[Out-of-pocket] payments are the least equitable way to finance the health system as they only grant access to the health services and health products that individuals can pay for, without solidarity between the healthy and the sick,” the report stated. “And yet, [Out-of-pocket] payments remain the primary source of funding in many [low- and middle-income countries], where risk-pooling and prepayment mechanisms both tend to play a limited role.”

For more information:

WHO. World Health Statistics. 2017. http://www.who.int/gho/publications/world_health_statistics/en/. Accessed May 17, 2017.

Disclosure: Infectious Disease News was unable to confirm relevant financial disclosures at the time of publication.

Of the estimated 56 million deaths recorded globally in 2015, approximately 27 million were registered with a cause, according to data from WHO’s annual World Health Statistics report.

In contrast, only about one-third of all deaths had a recorded cause in 2005.

According to WHO, countries can use cause-of-death information to track public health trends, plan interventions to improve health and assess whether the interventions are working. Several countries made significant progress in collecting this data, including China, Turkey and the Islamic Republic of Iran, where 90% of deaths had cause-of-death information in 2015 vs. 5% in 1999.

Marie-Paule Kieny
Marie-Paule Kieny

“If countries don’t know what makes people get sick and die, it’s a lot harder to know what to do about it,” Marie-Paule Kieny, PhD, WHO’s assistant director-general for health systems and innovation, said in the release. “WHO is working with countries to strengthen health information systems and to enable them to better track progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals.”

In addition to improvements in cause-of-death reporting, other data in the World Health Statistics report showed progress towards universal health coverage. The biggest improvements were observed in coverage of HIV treatment, which was administered to 18.2 million people living with HIV by mid-2016, and insecticide-treated bed nets to prevent malaria infection, which increased from 34% in 2010 to 60% in 2015. WHO also reported that from 2000 to 2015, the percentage of people with tuberculosis who were identified and received treatment increased from 23% to 49%, and global coverage of three doses of diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine, a proxy for full immunization among children, increased from 72% to 86%.

Another dimension of universal health coverage is how much money people pay out of pocket for health services. Most recent data from 117 countries showed that, on average, 9.3% of people spent more than 10% of their household budget on health care, which is “likely to expose a household to financial hardship,” the release stated.

“[Out-of-pocket] payments are the least equitable way to finance the health system as they only grant access to the health services and health products that individuals can pay for, without solidarity between the healthy and the sick,” the report stated. “And yet, [Out-of-pocket] payments remain the primary source of funding in many [low- and middle-income countries], where risk-pooling and prepayment mechanisms both tend to play a limited role.”

For more information:

WHO. World Health Statistics. 2017. http://www.who.int/gho/publications/world_health_statistics/en/. Accessed May 17, 2017.

Disclosure: Infectious Disease News was unable to confirm relevant financial disclosures at the time of publication.