burden of disease
Governments across the world are facing increased health service costs. This is due to the ageing of the population, changes in the pattern of disease, greater demands for health services and the introduction of new and more expensive technologies. Quantifying the need for various health services, as well as the associated costs and benefits, is essential for the planning and development of public health policies.
Burden of disease is a specialised area of research that quantifies ill-health, by measuring and analysing the extent and causes of health problems. Together with evaluations of cost-effectiveness, burden of disease provides the information policy makers need to help them make decisions.
The MRC Burden of Disease Research Unit has developed a focused research programme that is contributing to burden of disease information for South Africa and assisting policy makers who are responding to the health needs of the nation.
A major project of the Burden of Disease Research Unit was the national 2000 SA Burden of Disease Study, which provides initial estimates of disease burden for the year 2000 as well as Provincial mortality estimates. The study has generated estimates of the causes of death and disability that were experienced in that year. Selected risk factors are also being assessed to measure their individual contributions to the overall burden of disease in a Comparative Risk Factor Assessment (CRA).
Initiative to train doctors in medical certification
Reliable cause-of-death data are needed to make informed policy choices. Together with the Department of Health, the Department of Home Affairs and the Medical Research Council, Statistics South Africa has embarked on an initiative to ensure that our doctors know how to certify the cause of death correctly.