Missoula Author’s Book Details Big Data Initiative on Global Health

Monday, April 20, 2015

What if you had a map that told you what sickened, killed or affected the health of every person across the world? And how would you make it?

Missoula author Jeremy N. Smith’s new book, “Epic Measures: One Doctor. Seven Billion Patients,” follows the efforts of doctor and economist Christopher Murray and the Global Burden of Disease study, an unprecedented attempt to collect that voluminous data on human life, injury and death in a single place.

The GBD, which was the first-ever study the British medical journal The Lancet dedicated an entire issue toward, has yielded surprising revelations.

Smith can rattle them off at length: Neck pain and back pain are the leading drivers of health loss in the United States and the world.

Which causes more health problems around the world: Household air pollution, or lack of clean water and sanitation?

It happens to be the former, which is not the subject of as many public health campaigns as the latter.

Gathering the data to produce these facts and thousands of others was a years-long effort that Smith describes as a “moon shot.”

It required Murray, his partner the demographer Alan Lopez, a team of more than 200 data-crunchers and employees in Seattle, thousands of scientists and field workers around the world, and $150 million in funding from Bill and Melinda Gates.

Source: Missoulian (link opens in a new window)

Health Care