|Source: Global Burden of Disease (GBD) Study
In terms of the number of years of life lost (YLLs) due to premature death in Pakistan, the study found that lower respiratory infections, neonatal encephalopathy (birth asphyxia and birth trauma), and diarrheal diseases were the highest ranking causes in 2010. Of the 25 most important causes of burden, as measured by disability-adjusted life years (DALYs), diarrheal diseases showed the largest decrease, falling by 35% from 1990 to 2010. The leading risk factor in Pakistan is household air pollution from solid fuels. Interpersonal violence, including crime and terrorism, is ranked 20th on a list of 71 causes of premature mortality in Pakistan.
|Leading Mortality Causes in Pakistan
Recent research shows that there are potentially far reaching negative consequences for nations carrying high levels of disease burdens causing lower average intelligence among their current and future generations.
|World IQ Map
Published by the University of New Mexico and reported by Newsweek, new research shows that there is a link between lower IQs and prevalence of infectious diseases. Comparing data on national “disease burdens” (life years lost due to infectious diseases or DALYs) with average intelligence scores, the authors found a striking inverse correlation—around 67 percent. They also found that the cognitive ability is rising in some countries than in others, and IQ scores have risen as nations develop—a phenomenon known as the “Flynn effect.”
According to the UNM study's author Christopher Eppig and his colleagues, the human brain is the “most costly organ in the human body.” The Newsweek article adds that the "brainpower gobbles up close to 90 percent of a newborn’s energy. It stands to reason, then, that if something interferes with energy intake while the brain is growing, the impact could be serious and longlasting. And for vast swaths of the globe, the biggest threat to a child’s body—and hence brain—is parasitic infection. These illnesses threaten brain development in several ways. They can directly attack live tissue, which the body must then strain to replace. They can invade the digestive tract and block nutritional uptake. They can hijack the body’s cells for their own reproduction. And then there’s the energy diverted to the immune system to fight the infection. Out of all the parasites, the diarrheal ones may be the gravest threat—they can prevent the body from getting any nutrients at all".
Looking at the situation in South Asia, it appears from the WHO data that Pakistan is doing a bit better than India in 12 out of 14 disease groups ranging from diarrhea to heart disease to intentional injuries, and it is equal for the remaining two (Malaria and Asthma).
Another detailed WHO report on World Health Statistics for 2010 assesses and compares its member nations on the basis of nine criteria including mortality and burden of disease, cause-specific mortality, selected infectious diseases, health service coverage, risk factors, health workforce-infrastructure, health expenditures and demographic and socioeconomic statistics. It shows that both India and Pakistan have some serious challenges to overcome to have any chance of meeting health-related Millennium Development Goals (MDGs 4, 5 and 6).
India and Pakistan Suffer Heavy Disease Burdens
India and Pakistan Off Track, Off Target on Sanitation
Pak Lady Health Workers "Best in the World"
India's Air Most Toxic in the World
Infectious Diseases Kill Millions in South Asia
WHO Says Pakistan On Track to be Polio Free
Syeda Hamida of Indian Planning Commission Says India Worse Than Pakistan and Bangladesh
Global Hunger Index Report 2009
Grinding Poverty in Resurgent India