Publication date: 
February 28, 2017

The world is entering a new era of global health.

On February 8, the University of Washington Department of Global Health (UWDGH) convened renowned thought leaders from around the world to explore the evolving field of global health through presentations, panel discussions, and audience Q&A’s.

In her opening remarks, UWDGH Chair Judith Wasserheit called 2017 a jubilee year for the robust global health community in the state of Washington. Several Seattle-based organizations, including IHME, celebrate landmark anniversaries this year, and new historic awards to the University of Washington and its partners will continue to support future efforts.

Health metrics sciences play an important role in driving decisions and programs aimed at improving the health of the world’s populations, and the significance of good evidence and IHME’s impact was made apparent by many speakers during the event.

“Everywhere in the world, people are living longer, but unfortunately some with sicker lives, increasing the burden on health services, budget, and the work force,” explained WHO’s General Director Dr. Margaret Chan during her presentation. “I tell you, 85 countries in WHO’s membership, representing 65% of the world’s population, do not have reliable cause of death statistics. This means causes of death are neither known nor recorded, and health programs are left to base strategies on crude and imprecise estimates. Thank you to IHME and their work on this.”

Peter Piot, Director of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and former head of UNAIDS, nodded to the impact of the Global Burden of Disease by saying, “The health challenges are changing in the world, and today we know that more precisely than before because of the Global Burden of Disease exercises.”

Later in the evening, Washington Global Health Alliance (WGHA) Executive Director Lisa Cohen spoke with Melinda Gates, Co-Founder of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), about Melinda’s vision for the future of global health. When asked about BMGF’s recent investments in the UW, Melinda explained, “We like to make investments that have big-scale impact, and we like to support visionary leaders.” She continued by sharing the impact of the estimates created by IHME and the Global Burden of Disease collaboration, and noting that many scientists and governments were looking to these numbers to drive change.

“When Bill and I are starting to think about what is it we want to leave behind in the world — if we’re gone in 10 or 20 years — what would we leave behind? What institutions? And IHME is absolutely a global public good already, and we want to make sure it’s even that much better.”

IHME faculty Simon Hay and Ali Mokdad were among the group of distinguished speakers at the Global Health: Next Decade, Next Generation symposium, joining other experts on panels to discuss pandemic disease preparedness and prevention and care for non-communicable diseases.

If you missed the symposium, you can watch the entire event recording here.

The Storify below reveals highlights of the online conversation around the event hashtag #GHNextGen.