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Neurology and Public Health
March 2000

The Global Burden of Disease Study: Implications for Neurology

Author Affiliations

From the World Federation of Neurology, Research Group on Medical Education, London, England.



Arch Neurol. 2000;57(3):418-420. doi:10.1001/archneur.57.3.418

Because of the epidemiological transition, the global burden of illness has changed. Several factors have contributed to this change, including improvements in maternal and child health, increasing age of populations, and newly recognized disorders of the nervous system. It is now evident that neurologic disorders have emerged as priority health problems worldwide. This is reflected in the Global Burden of Disease Study, jointly published by the World Health Organization and other groups. The proportionate share of the total global burden of disease resulting from neuropsychiatric disorders is projected to rise to 14.7% by 2020. Although neurologic and psychiatric disorders comprise only 1.4% of all deaths, they account for a remarkable 28% of all years of life lived with a disability. This study provides compelling evidence that one cannot assess the neurologic health status of a population by examining mortality statistics alone. Health ministries worldwide must prioritize neurologic disorders, and neurologists must be prepared to provide care for increased numbers of people individually and in population groups.