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Global and regional cause-of-death patterns in 1990.

By C. J. Murray and A. D. Lopez


Demographic estimation techniques suggest that worldwide about 50 million deaths occur each year, of which about 39 million are in the developing countries. In countries with adequate registration of vital statistics, the age at death and the cause can be reliably determined. Only about 30-35% of all deaths are captured by vital registration (excluding sample registration schemes); for the remainder, cause-of-death estimation procedures are required. Indirect methods which model the cause-of-death structure as a function of the level of mortality can provide reasonable estimates for broad cause-of-death groups. Such methods are generally unreliable for more specific causes. In this case, estimates can be constructed from community-level mortality surveillance systems or from epidemiological evidence on specific diseases. Some check on the plausibility of the estimates is possible in view of the hierarchical structure of cause-of-death lists and the well-known age-specific patterns of diseases and injuries. The results of applying these methods to estimate the cause of death for over 120 diseases or injuries, by age, sex and region, are described. The estimates have been derived in order to calculate the years of life lost due to premature death, one of the two components of overall disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) calculated for the 1993 World development report. Previous attempts at cause-of-death estimation have been limited to a few diseases only, with little age-specific detail. The estimates reported in detail here should serve as a useful reference for further public health research to support the determination of health sector priorities

Topics: Research Article
Publisher: World Health Organization
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Provided by: PubMed Central
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