Frank remarks on disease burden estimates

Disease burden estimates are contentious as I’ve previously discussed on the blog (here and here) and in print (here, here, and here). So I won’t say much but share some surprising new comments. They are surprising not for their content (which we’ve already said) but because they are from the Global Burden of Disease group, which includes the authors of the controversial malaria estimates, and they are published in the Lancet, which published and actively promoted these estimates.

We now joke to each other how we used to get away with murder in the past doing burden studies. We tended to make lots of not so replicable ad-hoc decisions and few people knew what we were doing anyway.

We have also had some experiences of disease experts taking on roles of advocates with aim to ‘boost the numbers’ rather than being ‘impassionate’ scientific advisers.

Countries should develop sufficient capability to independently assess the merits of different methodologies and interpretation of findings: simply because WHO has issued estimates of disease burden does not make them correct.

Let’s see if these get noticed. I should add that I admire the openness of the article and the intent to change business-as-usual expressed there within (thanks Matt for the link).

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