This November the National Taiwan University’s College of Public Health, together with the Taiwan Burden of Disease Center, organized the 1st Asia regional forum on the National Burden of Disease. During the two days of the forum the theme was “Putting Evidence into Practice”, giving an interdisciplinary range of international speakers the opportunity to share and reflect on Burden of Disease research and their experiences. The carefully selected participants represented not only academia, but also governmental organizations such as Taiwan CDC and the private sector, giving the forum a unique scope.
Asia Forum on National Burden of Disease participants in the Global Lounge, College of Public Health, 28th November
While IHME’s global burden of disease project and its estimates on disease burden have become more and more important over the years, it has been well recognized that there is a need for national burden of disease data. Especially for national policy and strategy, global burden of disease estimates may not be accurate and lacks the ability to zoom in on local issues. Throughout the forum there was a mutual consensus on the importance of national burden of disease data as an addition for the global estimates, legitimized by the need of evidence based national and local policy making. This consensus was underlined in Thursday’s morning sessions, which gave an overview of regional experiences with National Burden of disease data with evident examples from Thailand’s Ministry of Public Health and research from the Philippines. The morning session hosted by Taiwan’s Health Promotion Administration, Taiwan Centers for Disease Control and National Taiwan University, also showed the progress in the usage of National burden of disease data and how it has guided policy making in Taiwan in the last few years.
Panel discussion in the Global Lounge, College of Public Health, 28th November
The afternoon was spent in a roundtable discussion to “put evidence into practice” by discussing the role of the burden of disease in evidence-based health policy making. A variety of health issues were addressed, ranging from health insurance and budget allocation to the local burden of disease. With the use of national GBD data in combination with various advocacy skills, interdisciplinary groups were able to convince the audience of the importance of each health related issue.
Measuring Population Aging by Professor Angela Y Chang, College of Public Health, 29th November
Friday morning was spent discussing the challenges faced when measuring the aging population. Age related burden constitutes a larger portion of burden amongst adults, though it is beginning to decrease overtime due to the overall improvement of health. The general consensus of the morning was that age is a terrible metric for measuring aging and disease progression, though it is still an important metric to improve as it can promote healthy aging amongst other policy implications.
Understanding potential directions in health and its implications is crucial towards policy implementation and long-term investments. It requires consideration of possible future trends and corresponding drivers of health. Health forecasts aim to outline possible future health trends by utilizing tools such as the GBD study. The GBD is a comprehensive research program of disease burden, assessing mortality and disability ranging from diseases to injuries and risk factors. Drawing from the GBD study, GBD forecasting has been developed as a reference forecast as a tool which could be vital towards inputs for strategies and investments in evidence-based policies and further research.
Professor Shuhei Nomura predicting the GBD of lower back pain, College of Public Health, 29th November
In the afternoon session, participants got to try their hand at GBD forecasting. Given a set of data that looks at the YLL of a specific given disease from 1990-2017, participants were asked to make out their predictions of the DALYs and YLLs from 2017-2040 before looking at what the GBD forecasting tool predicted. This activity provided us with a more complete understanding of disease assessment and how this tool can be used for further policy making.
This two-day event would not have been possible without the help from the Taiwan National Burden of Disease Center, the National Taiwan University’s College of Public Health, and from the participants. This forum showed that there was a need for regional collaboration and an exchange of knowledge on the National Burden of Disease research. Therefore, Taiwan’s National Burden of Disease Center looks forward to the continuation of this forum.