What metric is suitable for measuring the global burden of disease ( GBD)? The statistic must incorporate morbidity and mortality and be sufficiently broad to include suffering and handicap. One answer is the disability-adjusted life-year ( DALY).(2) The DALY is a statistic developed to summarize in a single number the impact of premature death, as well as the suffering and disability, resulting from specific disease conditions. Age at death, as well as death itself, is taken into account by subtracting the age at death from life expectancy remaining at that age to compute 'years of life lost'. In order not to undervalue years lost in developing countries, the figure for life expectancy is that of the developed world. To take suffering and disability into account, each surviving year is adjusted by the duration and severity of disablement (i.e. blindness or paralysis) resulting from disease. The focus is on health status; life is valued precisely the same whenever it is in jeopardy, and no financial data are included.
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