In the United Kingdom, finding out how the UK’s population health compared to that of other countries helped spur policy action. As an outgrowth of the Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries, and Risk Factors Study 2010 (GBD 2010) coordinated by IHME, the UK Department of Health and GBD authors produced a report on the state of health in the country that compared the UK with similar countries in the European Union (EU) and with the United States, Canada, and Australia.
This report found that although people in the UK are living longer than 20 years ago, they have persistently and significantly fallen behind 14 other EU countries, Australia, Canada, Norway, and the US, particularly when it comes to people dying prematurely.
These findings were crucial in spurring Jeremy Hunt, the UK’s Secretary of State for Health, into action. “I want us to be up there with the best in Europe when it comes to tackling the leading causes of early death, starting with the five big killer diseases – cancer, heart, stroke, respiratory and liver diseases,” wrote Hunt. “But the striking picture of our health outcomes across these major causes of early death … shows that we have a long way to go before we are confident that we can achieve this aspiration.”
Other UK policymakers agreed. The findings prompted discussion and debate and, ultimately, a call to an action campaign in the UK, “Living well for longer: A call to action to reduce avoidable premature mortality.”
The campaign presented findings from the UK GBD report and proposed critical steps toward preventing premature death and improving quality of life on the local and national levels.
As Hunt wrote in the call to action, “We will not be the best in Europe immediately. But we need to start making changes now. It is time to be bold and ambitious for health.”