Publication date: 
March 26, 2018

What do the largest development bank, largest global public health agency, and largest funder of primary biomedical research have in common?


Well, among other things, their use of IHME’s work for decision-making.


But wait, you might say, what does that mean? And what exactly, does IHME do?


Well, quite a lot. IHME – the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation – has spent the past decade trying to answer the question of how many people get sick and how many people die all around the world. It seems like a straightforward question, but it quickly gets more complicated:

IHME's Salud Mesoamerica Initiative project team travels to the State of Chiapas to train doctors and nurses on the study to collect quality data. Chiapas, Mexico, 2018. Photo by Alex Schaefer, IHME Technical Project Coordinator


How do you get information from every country in the world about deaths and illness?

If you can’t get information, how do you estimate?

How do you check and update those estimates?

How do you handle data on the health and illness and vaccination schedules and education levels and labor forces and GDPs and hospital admissions and on a global scale?

Once you’ve done all of that, how do you get the results into the hands of those who can use them to effect change?

How do you measure that change?


So from a seemingly simple question – how many people get sick and how many people die every year, around the world? – dozens of other questions are born. And it is there, in those questions, and the pursuit of those answers, that IHME works.


“There’s a lot of complexity to trying to make sense of the world’s health data,” said Dr. Christopher Murray, founder of IHME. “But you can’t save lives if you don’t know what people are dying from.”


Join us as we explore what IHME is learning from all of this global health data, how we work with partners around the world to make such an endeavor possible, and where we go from here. We’ll also be launching a channel on Medium ( and hope you will join our conversation there as well!


And don’t worry, we’ll tell you more about how IHME’s work is being used in our next post!


This post is part of a new series, IHME Foundations, that discusses some of the core aspects of IHME’s work while exploring along the way everything from how you manage over 50 databases with more than 39 billion rows (and what that even means) to how you help governments in Central America evaluate the impact of their health programs. Join us for the whole series on Medium ( or our blog (