Big Risks: the challenges and opportunities in addressing the biggest global causes of premature mortality
Guest Editors: Dr Raymond Hutubessy, Prof Gretchen Birbeck, Dr Juan-Manuel Anaya and Prof Alan Lopez
The forthcoming post-Millennium Development Goals era will bring about new challenges in global health. Low-and middle-income countries will have to contend with a dual burden of infectious and non-communicable diseases (NCDs). Moreover, injuries are a leading cause of health loss in populations throughout the world. Traditionally, global policy has tended to focus efforts on child health, HIV and TB. However, other 'big risks', which cause significant morbidity and mortality virtually everywhere among young and middle-aged adults have been ignored, despite their growing importance due to the increasing burden of NCDs in the today's globalized society.
Efforts to curtail their effect on premature mortality and morbidity in adults are dependent on four pillars of the health system response: reliably measuring premature mortality by cause and population exposure to major risk factors, developing cost-effective interventions against the biggest causes of mortality, financing the scale up these interventions throughout health systems, and ensuring efficient delivery and effective coverage of these interventions. Controversy, uncertainty and gaps in knowledge exist at every level of these health system responses. The academic community, including researchers and academic publishers, have a critical role in contesting and strengthening knowledge in order to identify more effective strategies to reduce exposure to these risks, better support the dissemination of evidence on the most appropriate intervention policies, and create much needed debate in these areas.
As part of a new focus for the Medicine for Global Health article collection, we will be considering all articles on the challenges and opportunities in addressing the biggest global causes of premature mortality. We would welcome submission of articles focusing on measurement issues, financing options and development and delivery of interventions aimed at reducing the burden of these big risks.