Measuring the world’s health: How good are our estimates?

Published April 11, 2014, in The Handbook of Global Health Policy (opens in a new window)


This chapter introduces key health metrics, as well as data sources and the analytic methods used in their estimation. It also provides examples, at both the global and country level, that illustrate their use to shape policy. The chapter focuses on two health metrics: disability-adjusted life-years (DALYs), which can give policymakers a comprehensive view of overall population health; and effective coverage, which can provide insight into how well health systems are delivering services to the populations who need them. Health metrics, including DALYs and effective coverage, are estimated from several data sources. These sources can vary substantially in terms of the information they collect, the frequency with which data are collected and updated, and the populations they can accurately represent. The chapter considers Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 5 and Mexico's Seguro Popular health insurance reform to explain the need for advancement in timely and comprehensive health metrics.

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Fullman N, Flaxman A, Leach-Kemon K, Rajaratnam JK, Lozano R. Measuring the world’s health: How good are our estimates? In: Brown GW, Yamey G, Wamala S, eds. The Handbook of Global Health Policy. John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, 2014: 97–117.