Estimating the burden of disease attributable to four selected environmental risk factors in South Africa

Norman, R., Bradshaw, D., Lewin, S., Cairncross, E., Nannan, N., & Vos, T. (2010) Estimating the burden of disease attributable to four selected environmental risk factors in South Africa. Reviews on Environmental Health, 25(2), pp. 87-120.

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Abstract

INTRODUCTION:

The first South African National Burden of Disease study quantified the underlying causes of premature mortality and morbidity experienced in South Africa in the year 2000. This was followed by a Comparative Risk Assessment to estimate the contributions of 17 selected risk factors to burden of disease in South Africa. This paper describes the health impact of exposure to four selected environmental risk factors: unsafe water, sanitation and hygiene; indoor air pollution from household use of solid fuels; urban outdoor air pollution and lead exposure.

METHODS:

The study followed World Health Organization comparative risk assessment methodology. Population-attributable fractions were calculated and applied to revised burden of disease estimates (deaths and disability adjusted life years, [DALYs]) from the South African Burden of Disease study to obtain the attributable burden for each selected risk factor. The burden attributable to the joint effect of the four environmental risk factors was also estimated taking into account competing risks and common pathways. Monte Carlo simulation-modeling techniques were used to quantify sampling, uncertainty.

RESULTS:

Almost 24 000 deaths were attributable to the joint effect of these four environmental risk factors, accounting for 4.6% (95% uncertainty interval 3.8-5.3%) of all deaths in South Africa in 2000. Overall the burden due to these environmental risks was equivalent to 3.7% (95% uncertainty interval 3.4-4.0%) of the total disease burden for South Africa, with unsafe water sanitation and hygiene the main contributor to joint burden. The joint attributable burden was especially high in children under 5 years of age, accounting for 10.8% of total deaths in this age group and 9.7% of burden of disease.

CONCLUSION:

This study highlights the public health impact of exposure to environmental risks and the significant burden of preventable disease attributable to exposure to these four major environmental risk factors in South Africa. Evidence-based policies and programs must be developed and implemented to address these risk factors at individual, household, and community levels.

Impact and interest:

4 citations in Scopus
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ID Code: 80241
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: environmental, risk factors, burden of disease, South Africa, attributable burden
DOI: 10.1515/REVEH.2010.25.2.87
ISSN: 0048-7554
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES (110000)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES (110000) > PUBLIC HEALTH AND HEALTH SERVICES (111700)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES (110000) > PUBLIC HEALTH AND HEALTH SERVICES (111700) > Epidemiology (111706)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Current > Institutes > Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation
Current > Schools > School of Public Health & Social Work
Deposited On: 27 Jan 2015 01:56
Last Modified: 09 Feb 2015 02:42

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