Study believed to be first-ever attempt to estimate burden of disease related to liver-related death and disability
SEATTLE – Viral hepatitis has become one of the leading causes of death and disability globally, resulting in at least as many deaths annually as either tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS, or malaria.
In addition, viral hepatitis affects people in high- and low-income nations evenly, according to a new study published in The Lancet. The study, “The Global Burden of Viral Hepatitis, 1990-2013,” was led by Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) Assistant Professor Dr. Jeff Stanaway, in collaboration with Dr. Graham Cooke, a scientist in the Division of Infectious Diseases of Imperial College London.
The study is available on IHME’s website at: http://www.healthdata.org/research-article/global-burden-viral-hepatitis-1990-2013-findings-global-burden-disease-study-2013.
It drew on estimates from the Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries, and Risk Factors Study (GBD) 2013, the most comprehensive effort worldwide to measure epidemiological levels and trends. IHME serves as the coordinating center for GBD, which includes contributions from network of more than 1700 researchers from over 125 countries worldwide.
The study found that between 1990 and 2013 deaths associated with viral hepatitis increased 63%, in contrast to other major infectious diseases. Together, viral hepatitis deaths from acute infection, cirrhosis, and liver cancer jumped from the tenth leading cause of death in 1990 (890,000 deaths) to the seventh leading cause of death in 2013 (1.45 million deaths).
By comparison, in 2013, 1.3 million people worldwide died from AIDS, 1.4 million from TB, and 855,000 from malaria, according to a 2015 study conducted by an international consortium of researchers led by IHME.
“To our knowledge, this is the first attempt to formally estimate the burden of viral hepatitis using systematic data gathering and robust statistical methods,” says Dr. Cooke.
In addition to hepatitis-related deaths, people’s years of life lost (YLL) in 2013 exceeded 41 million years in 2013. YLLs are calculated by subtracting the age at death from the longest possible life expectancy for a person at that age. Also, there were more than 870,000 years in which people lived with disabilities related to hepatitis.
Dr. Stanaway also noted that viral hepatitis is unusual amongst leading communicable diseases because it is evenly divided between higher and lower income nations.
“We explored the relationship between the burden of viral hepatitis and economic status,” he says. “Viral hepatitis has consistently been ranked as a leading cause of mortality in upper-middle income countries, but a relative rise in mortality in lower-middle income countries has been associated with a narrowing in the rankings by 2013…. Our results suggest that an evolution in funding structures is required to accommodate viral hepatitis and allow effective responses in low and low-to-middle middle income countries.”
Kayla Albrecht, MPH
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Dean R. Owen
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Established in 2007, The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) is an independent global health research center at the University of Washington in Seattle that provides rigorous and comparable measurement of the world’s most important health problems and evaluates strategies to address them. IHME makes this information available so that policymakers, donors, practitioners, researchers, and local and global decision-makers have the evidence they need to make informed decisions about how to allocate resources to best improve population health. For more information, visit: www.healthdata.org