The burden of disease is a measurement of the number of deaths and health issues in a given region or among a certain group of people. Therefore, a study of the global burden of disease is an attempt to determine the areas or groups around the world which experience the most problems with health. The resultant information can then be used to assess and allocate necessary resources to improve the situation. Such measurement has a number of constraints and issues which need to be taken into account before a meaningful image can be produced. Thus, the researchers include several criteria to obtain a concise picture. These include data on economic development, geographical orientation, genetic predisposition, and a range of cultural and social conditions. Once these factors are aggregated, they can be measured against the most relevant policies, which may possibly improve the situation. Such an approach eliminates the possibility of inappropriate intervention. Importantly, the data are not limited by the number of deaths and the incidence of certain diseases – instead, they account for the number of years lost because of the death. In this way, the distinction is made between premature and expected deaths, with early ones such as child mortality having the most weight (Lopez and Mathers 484). Finally, because this approach still does not account for all of the relevant health factors, e.g. depression, a more encompassing attempt is introduced in the form of QALY (quality-adjusted life-year), which includes perception of the quality of life, which, despite having its advantages, poses some limitations (e.g. is influenced by cultural differences and thus cannot be applied on a global scale), and DALY (disability-adjusted life year), its somewhat more reliable and consistent counterpart (Muennig and Su 76). The resulting measurement allows the researchers to estimate not only the rates of deaths across the globe but also the most likely reasons behind them and, most importantly, the most effective ways to address the issue.
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Once it becomes clear what factors are responsible for poor health metrics, wealthy donors (governments, international organizations, or private sources) allocate funds to poor countries to alleviate the issue. However, this approach is also controversial. According to some critics, the policy of aid does not resolve the issue. Some point to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which demonstrates little to no signs of economic or social development despite receiving aid for several decades (Muennig and Su 91). Others suggest that reliance on aid inevitably leads to the situation whereby recipient countries become dependent on external sources of funding, which contributes to reluctance to develop on their own. Finally, in some cases, bilateral aid (sent directly to the government of the receiving country) is misused or fails to reach the intended beneficiaries altogether, usually because of high levels of corruption. This, however, does not mean that aid should be withheld. First, examples of successful development based mostly on aid do exist, with South Korea being the most notable one – its development was largely stimulated by foreign aid, and it is currently one of the most productive countries in the world (Muennig and Su 91). Besides, official direct assistance is among the simplest and most straightforward ways of addressing resource gaps. Still, some improvements can be made to optimize the effects of aid. First, it could benefit from better coordination and control to determine the uses to which the donated resources should be put. Admittedly, such an approach will require additional resource allocation (Bauhr, Charron, and Nasiritousi 575). Second, the funding practices should be coupled with efforts to create an environment favorable to change and stimulate development rather than simply paying for it.
Bauhr, Monika, Nicholas Charron, and Naghmeh Nasiritousi. “Does Corruption Cause Aid Fatigue? Public Opinion and the Aid‐Corruption Paradox1.” International Studies Quarterly 57.3 (2013): 568-579. Print.
Lopez, Alan, and Colin Mathers. “Measuring the global burden of disease and epidemiological transitions: 2002-2030.” Annals of Tropical Medicine and Parasitology 100.5-6 (2015): 481-499. Print.
Muennig, Peter, and Celina Su. Introducing Global Health: Practice, Policy, and Solutions. Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons, 2013. Print.