1. Burden of Disease Studies: general burden of illness, climate change and violence
A major research field of the department is the quantification and evaluation of burden of disease. Owing to the epidemiological transition, the global burden of disease has been shifting and changing. The department has developed specialized research competencies in the critical analysis of the global burden of disease by the application of innovative methodological techniques. Members of the department are collaborators of the Global Burden of Disease studies, corrdinated by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME). By using secondary health data of the state North Rhine-Westphalia of Germany, the department has conducted two studies to calculate the burden of disease and healthy years of life lost in the region’s population. In addition, the department conducted comparative burden of disease studies in Germany, Bangladesh and China.
The department has participated in an international research project of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC). The aim of the project was to develop methods and to estimate the burden of infectious diseases in Europe. In another EU-funded research project (SIDARTHa), the department has been focusing on the development of a syndromic surveillance system on the basis of routine emergency care data. The surveillance system will be capable to discover and predict health threats well in advance.
The unpredictable climatic changes and environmental imbalances are posing many threats to global public health and human well-being. Mindful of this emerging challenge, the department has been working to conceptualize this threat and to develop strategies to investigate the complex associations between climate change and the immediate and impending threats to human health. For this, we have been working to develop a national and international network of experts from diverse academic disciplines to conduct comprehensive research on this intriguing challenge.
For the last two decades, the international scientific community has increasingly realized the negative individual and public health consequences of various types of violence. The department has taken a lead to work on this crucial but yet neglected area of scientific inquiry. Recently, the department has incorporated ‘violence and health’ courses in the ongoing research and teaching operations at undergraduate and graduate levels. The department intends to develop research capabilities in this new domain of scholarship through active exchange of scholars worldwide networking for cross-cultural and comparative studies on violence and health.