Director's Statement

Christopher J.L. Murray

After a decade of dramatic growth in spending on global health, economic problems and political turmoil are causing some of the world’s biggest funders – including the United States government and United Nations agencies – to put the brakes on development assistance for health. Now more than ever, we need objective evidence to show policymakers what works and what does not work to improve people’s lives.

The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) was created at the University of Washington to fill that information gap. We do this by focusing on three critical questions: What are the world’s major health problems? How well is society addressing these problems? How do we best dedicate resources to maximize health improvement?
 
We answer those questions by measuring population health status and disease burden, identifying the factors that determine health outcomes, and rigorously evaluating health policies and interventions.
 
Governed by a distinguished international board and advised by a scientific oversight committee, IHME occupies a unique niche. It is an academic center that maintains high standards of accountability and transparency in all of its work – in research, education and training, communications, and policy engagements. IHME harnesses all sources of available data, and thus is not dependent on any single measurement or any single source and remains independent from official intergovernmental agencies. Complementing those working directly on health policies and health interventions, IHME’s dedication and expertise in measurement and assessment are assets that can help strengthen their performance.
 
To promote public discussion, IHME disseminates its work openly through peer-reviewed publications, policy reports, and its own Global Health Data Exchange – welcoming open review and debate on its work. In global health, a field dominated by official statistics, IHME brings together high scientific rigor with independence to play a critical role in understanding, supporting, and advancing global health.
 
Already, IHME has made significant contributions to global health. It has pioneered methods in identifying causes of death in low-resource settings, allowing countries to better target limited health resources. It has increased the level of accountability in financial reporting by documenting all public and private spending on health worldwide. And it has brought attention to the specialized needs of local communities by creating new ways of measuring health challenges in small areas – such as counties and cities – and by showing for the first time how women in hundreds of counties across the United States are either stagnating or falling behind in life expectancy.
 

Thanks to long-term funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and support from the State of Washington, we have been able to set an ambitious agenda for the Institute. Through our research, we strive to provide the most accurate and comprehensive information on population health that will in turn create a stronger foundation for strategic decision-making and, ultimately, better health for people worldwide.

 

Dr. Christopher J.L. Murray
Institute Director and
Professor of Global Health, 
University of Washington

Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation
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