progress at the midpoint towards the goal, set forth in the 1978 Alma Ata Declaration, of achieving ” Health for All by the Year 2000.” Given the paucity of resources available for health services in many developing countries, most public health programs up to the time of the 1991 workshop were focused more on eradication or at least control of preventable childhood infectious diseases, such as measles and diarrhea, than they were on treatment of chronic diseases or responding to the health-care needs of the elderly (National Research Council, 2006). This was not surprising given the extremely high rates of infant and child mortality in some parts of the developing world, particularly Africa, where the majority of such deaths were preventable with low-cost interventions such as oral rehydration salts or vaccinations.

The 1991 workshop coincided with the development and rapid acceptance of new measures of healthy years of life lost to various diseases as the basis for making comparisons of the cost-effectiveness of alternative health programs; this approach would get even more support in the years following the workshop, with the publication of the seminal 1993 report Investing in Health (World Bank, 1993) and the publication of the first edition of the World Health Organization’s Global Burden of Disease study (Murray and Lopez, 1996a; 1996b) that elevated the science of assessing mortality and disability from diseases, injuries, and risk factors to a new level. The workshop also took place at a time of mounting concern about how the human immunodeficiency virus/acquired immune deficiency syndrome (HIV/AIDS), then a fairly new and geographically limited disease, would affect patterns of health and development (Merli and Palloni, 2006).


Recognizing the need to continuously monitor how mortality patterns are changing in sub-Saharan Africa over time, the National Institute of Aging asked the Committee on Population of the National Academy of Sciences to convene a workshop to review a number of issues related to the epidemiological transition in sub-Saharan Africa.

Statement of Task

An ad hoc committee will plan, organize and commission papers for a public workshop on the epidemiological transition in sub-Saharan Africa. Papers may be commissioned either to develop the workshop or to be presented at the workshop. Following the workshop, a rapporteur will summarize the presentations and workshop discussions.

The workshop will feature invited presentations and discussion. Among the issues to be considered are the following:

•  A review of the changes that have taken place in the past 15 years in this rapidly moving area of inquiry.

•  An update of trends and their implications for health policy.

•  The coordination of data analysis across demographic surveillance sites and from new surveys and other sources.

•  Methodological challenges for dealing with data from demographic surveillance sites.

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