The Global Burden of Disease study (GBD) has millions of data points tracking diseases and health risk factors around the world. GBD is an incredible resource for understanding what has happened in places over time, but it doesn’t shed as much light on why or how these trends in health have occurred.
This week I had the opportunity to help launch the results from an impact evaluation assessing district-level trends in intervention coverage and child mortality in Zambia. One of the most striking results – for both IHME researchers and colleagues in Zambia – was the country’s remarkable scale-up of exclusive breastfeeding (EBF), or solely breastfeeding children for the first six months of life. This made me want to investigate a bit more, to see if other countries have achieved similar gains.
EBF is associated with many health benefits, especially for very young children. Sub-optimal breastfeeding, where children are not exclusively breastfed, contributes to substantial negative health outcomes, such as higher rates of mortality and illness.
In December, researcher Thomas Roberts and colleagues from IHME published a paper tracking trends in EBF from 1990 and 2010 throughout the world. What makes this work really interesting is that you can compare trends for the intervention (coverage of EBF) with its intended outcome (declines in early death and disability due to sub-optimal breastfeeding) through the GBD 2010 study – and understand the impact of programs and policies.
So what countries have seen the most gains – both in rising rates of EBF and declining trends in disease burden from sub-optimal breastfeeding? [Read more...]