Avoiding Premature Death Around the World
Death rates of young and middle-aged people are much higher in developing countries than in Western countries. Yet appropriate action could narrow these differences. As Canada Research Chair in Global Health, Dr. Prabhat Jha wants to study the death rates and causes to improve the health of the living in developing countries.
Jha leads the Indian Million Death Study (MDS), one of the world’s largest studies of human health. The study monitors 14 million people in India in two million homes. Its findings have already spurred government action on tobacco, as well as on childhood and infectious diseases.
By deepening the analysis of child and adult mortality to cover a wider range of possible causes, Jha will develop new tools and methods to apply the study’s approach to other populations in Asia, Africa and Latin America. For example, he will document the hazards of smoking and benefits of quitting in the United States, Canada, Mexico and elsewhere.
Jha and his research team will conduct blood-based epidemiological studies and quantify the hazards of smoking, alcohol consumption and obesity worldwide. He will also conduct randomized trials to gauge the effectiveness of public health messages promoting disease control.
His research will contribute to a goal proposed to the United Nations to reduce global premature mortality by 40 per cent by 2030 (compared to 2010 rates). If achieved, this goal would avoid approximately 18 million premature deaths around the world.