War contributes most to disability in Afghanistan: Report

November 15, 2016

New Delhi: Prestigious medical journal from UK, the Lancet, has published an up-to-date analysis on the state of the world's health, stressing on the Global Burden of Disease, Injuries, and Risk Factors, or simply, GBD.

The study marks a massive effort that brought together 1870 independent experts in 195 countries and territories between 1990 and 2015 as part of the GBD study collaborations, analysing 249 causes of death, 315 diseases and injuries, and 79 risk factors. It aims to equip governments and donors with evidence to identify national health challenges and priorities for intervention.

The report bears a mixed bag for the countries in South Asia region, where all countries did much worse than expected at reducing deaths in children before their fifth birthday, with India recording the largest number of under-5 deaths of any country in 2015, at 1.3 million. India performed much worse than expected on tuberculosis. Bangladesh, on the other hand, has improved maternal survival much faster than expected; whilst India and Nepal fared poorly in this respect, notes the study.

India and Pakistan, the Lancet study notes, did better than expected at reducing health loss from stroke and countries like Bangladesh and Nepal reported lower respiratory infections.

Globally, according to the Lancet report, people's health is improving, but progress has been far from universal, highlighting areas where improvements must be made. For the first time, GBD 2015 includes a measure of development (the Socio-Demographic Index, or SDI, which is based on income per capita, educational attainment and total fertility rate) in order to assess a country's observed performance compared to their expected performance based on their stage of development.

It also alludes to health achievements in the light of the MDGs and the more recent SDGs -- 122 countries have already met the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) target to reduce the number of women dying from pregnancy-related causes to less than 70 for every 100,000 live births by 2030. However, it also notes that 24 countries have seen increasing maternal death since 2000 for varied reasons like conflict in Afghanistan to teenage pregnancies in economically well-off countries.

The report says that war was the greatest contributor to disability in Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon, and Syria in the year gone by while, for Syrian men, life expectancy fell more than 11 years comparing to the pre-war year of 2005.