Moneyball meets medicine in this remarkable chronicle of one of the greatest scientific quests of our time—the groundbreaking program to answer the most essential question for humanity: how do we live and die?—and the visionary mastermind behind it.
Medical doctor and economist Christopher Murray began the Global Burden of Disease studies to gain a truer understanding of how we live and how we die. While it is one of the largest scientific projects ever attempted—as breathtaking as the first moon landing or the Human Genome Project—the questions it answers are meaningful for every one of us: What are the world’s health problems? Who do they hurt? How much? Where? Why?
Murray argues that the ideal existence isn’t simply the longest but the one lived well and with the least illness. Until we can accurately measure how people live and die, we cannot understand what makes us sick or do much to improve it. Challenging the accepted wisdom of the WHO and the UN, the charismatic and controversial health maverick has made enemies—and some influential friends, including Bill Gates who gave Murray a $100 million grant.
In Epic Measures, journalist Jeremy N. Smith offers an intimate look at Murray and his groundbreaking work. From ranking countries’ healthcare systems (the U.S. is 37th) to unearthing the shocking reality that world governments are funding developing countries at only 30% of the potential maximum efficiency when it comes to health, Epic Measures introduces a visionary leader whose unwavering determination to improve global health standards has already changed the way the world addresses issues of health and wellness, sets policy, and distributes funding.
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About the Author
Jeremy N. Smith has written for the Atlantic, Discover, and the New York Times, among many other publications, and has been featured by CNN, NPR, and Wired. His first book, Growing a Garden City, was one of Booklist’s top ten books on the environment for 2011. Born and raised in Evanston, Illinois, he is a graduate of Harvard College and the University of Montana. He lives in Missoula, Montana, with his wife and daughter.
Table of Contents
Introduction: Counting Everything When Everything Counts xi
Part I Who Dies of What
Chapter 1 Murray, Murray, Murray, and Murray 3
Chapter 2 The Third World and the Nerd World 19
Chapter 3 How to Die with Statistics 33
Chapter 4 Missing Persons 47
Chapter 5 The Big Picture 63
Part II What Doesn't Kill You
Chapter 6 A Global Checkup 75
Chapter 7 Home and Away 89
Chapter 8 Taking on the World 99
Chapter 9 No One's Sick in North Korea 111
Chapter 10 Racing Stripes 123
Part III Resurrection
Chapter 11 Dinner with Bill 143
Chapter 12 Risky Business 157
Chapter 13 Missionaries and Converts 171
Part IV Going Live
Chapter 14 Dress Rehearsal 191
Chapter 15 Learning to Swim in the Ocean 213
Chapter 16 London Calling 233
Chapter 17 Epic Squared 245
Chapter 18 From Galileo to Chris Murray 259
Afterword: How to Live a Longer and Healthier to the Global Burden of Disease 281
Notes on Sources 297
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Given that Congress is in the process of deciding which health care bill will best serve Americans, Jeremy N. Smith's book Epic Measures One Doctor. Seven Billion Patients. is a most timely read. Although we live in the "Age of Big Data" as Smith states, where we all have Fitbits to track our every step, and you can pay $99 to have your DNA analyzed, it is remarkable that we don't have accurate statistics on what makes people ill and what they die from. In 147 of 192 countries, reliable death certificates do not exist. Chad Murray, an Oxford graduate, came to believe that his life's mission was to "measure how we sicken and die in order to improve how we live". Murray is a physician and economist, and an extremely driven man. His interest in health care began when his family went to work at a hospital in Niger (he was ten years old). The hospital had no electricity, water or supplies, but they had plenty of patients. Chad was the pharmacist, errand boy and assisted his father by holding the light so he could perform surgery. He learned how to persevere under difficult conditions. Because Murray "combined the talents of a demographer and an epidemiologist, a biologist and a doctor, an economist and a policy expert", he was uniquely qualified to see the big picture of disease and mortality. Murray's prickly personality hurt him when it came to working with others in the political arena. Worldwide organizations like the World Health Organization (WHO), UNICEF, and the UN led the way in working on health care issues, especially in the arena of childhood mortality. Many people felt threatened by Murray's assertions that we must get accurate statistics on disease and disability in adults in order to objectively measure the health of the entire world. After working with many established organizations, Murray founded The Institute for Health Matrics and Evaluation, with the help of Bill Gates. Murray and his staff of many around the world created a matrix that wanted to "turn information into evidence, evidence into action and action into results." They believed that global health is an instrument for social justice. Epic Measures is not just a book that will interest statistic or math geeks, health care providers and politicians, it is a fascinating look at how the most basic human need- good health- can be achieved through getting accurate information, and once you had that, realistically finding solutions. Fans of good narrative non-fiction, like The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks and Hidden Figures have found their next great read. And if you want to give your Congressperson a gift, a copy of Epic Measures would help everyone.
This is a well written book, easy to read but well written. It tells the story of a genius who is committed to imnprove the health of everyone in the world through collection of accurate and important data about world health. It raises interesting questions about the World Health Organization as well as other governmental agencies that decide how funds will be spent. It traces the actions of a man with a vision who is obsessed with improving the lives of everyone. I thoroughly enjoyed it and think many other people will find it insightful and snjoyable.