How Healthy Is Your Country?

Want to compare the impact of smoking in Estonia and Argentina? A massive release of data today by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington, Seattle, allows that and thousands of other comparisons of health data from 187 countries over the past 2 decades.

In the latest update of the Global Burden of Disease, Injuries, and Risk Factors Study2010 study, the IHME researchers led by Christopher Murray provide a country-level analysis of the mortality and disability due to 291 diseases and injuries and 67 risk factors for 20 age groups around the world. The Web site has a rich set of visualization tools that allow visitors to explore the statistics for specific conditions, age groups, and time periods.

Murray says those tools are a crucial part of the project. "We have put huge effort into trying to make information accessible to a broad audience … to the people who should be engaged in the debates on health," he says. "There's a tremendous amount of rich detail for each country here. It will take time to sort through them. I hope it will trigger a wave of questions" about how to best tackle the world's health problems.