INTERVIEW: Dr Dan Kajungu on New Global Burden of Diseases’ Study

Until recently malaria was one of the lead causes of deaths in Uganda, online today fewer people are dying from malaria while HIV/AIDS and lower respiratory infections have been identified as the lead cause of deaths in the Uganda as revealed by a new scientific analytical study dubbed Global Burden of Diseases Study (GBD)

The GBD also unveils other health, diseases and risk factors affecting the mortality rates in Uganda.

Dan Kajungu K. MSC. BIOSTAT, PHD, The Executive Director of Makerere University Centre For Health And Population Research (MUCHAP) explains the factors and reasons behind the GBD findings on Uganda.

Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries, and Risk Factors Study (GBD) released several statistics and findings on East Africa’s health risks and challenges among others.

What exactly is the GBD?

GBD is a new scientific analysis dubbed ‘Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries, and Risk Factors Study (GBD)’ that analyses more than 300 diseases and injuries in 195 countries. The study was established in 1990 with support from the World Bank.

This year, researchers analyzed each country using a Socio-demographic Index, examining rates of education, fertility, and income. This new categorization goes beyond the historical “developed” versus “developing” or economic divisions based on income alone.

The most recent report was released at an event co-sponsored by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), The Lancet, and the World Bank in Washington, DC.


What factors contributed to lower deaths resulting from malaria in Uganda?

Interventions by the government and other development partners like The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

The interventions include but not limited to mass distribution of insecticide treated mosquito nets, introduction of new malaria drugs of artemisinin combination therapy (ACTS) for treatment of uncomplicated malaria and massive public education on the dangers of malaria and guidance on utilization of available preventive measures like sleeping under a treated mosquito net and seeking treatment within 24 hours of onset of malaria episode.

Decisions about these interventions were informed by research on development of resistance toward the old antimalarial drugs like chloroquine and fansidar.

Give reasons why fewer people are dying from respiratory infections in Uganda.

The findings show that it was the number 2 cause of death and DALY in 2015 which means that it is one of the major causes of death. In fact, this shows that it is more of a problem because respiratory infections are not easily and/or properly diagnosed because of the lack of diagnostic capacity at especially the lower level health facilities where majority of our people seek treatment.

So, it is possible that more people are dying of RIs in Uganda. Of course, there are other factors both lifestyle and environmental which are risk factors of RI like indoor pollution which is common in most families, more people living sedentary lives, smoking.

Depression has also been identified as one of the non-fatal causes of health loss in East Africa. What should countries do to reduce on the numbers of people with depression?

There are a number of reasons why depression is a problem and these include poor living conditions due to poverty, stress, some of the behaviors like drug abuse, smoking marijuana, chronic diseases like HIV/AIDS. So, countries should look for ways of mitigating the effects of such problems or even eliminating those that can be eliminated.

Lower back pain has also been singled out by the GBD study as another non-fatal cause of health loss in East Africa. What should people do to prevent lower back pain?

Back pain is one of the common non-communicable diseases and is a result of mostly lifestyle practices like lack of exercise, obesity, among others. It is important for people to do exercises and avoid behaviors that will lead to obesity.

These findings show that non-communicable diseases (NCDs) are a becoming a major problem in developing countries like Uganda and governments and health planners should devise strategies of mitigating this problem as they are no longer diseases of the rich as it used to be known a few years back.

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