•  New theoretical perspectives on demographic modeling and their application to modeling the epidemiological transition.

To address the statement of task, the National Academy of Sciences appointed an ad hoc panel of experts in epidemiology, demography, and public health from Africa, Australia, Europe, and North America. Biographical sketches for the panel members are provided in Appendix C. The panel, chaired by Barthélémy Kuate Defo, had a dual charge:

1.  to develop a two-day workshop wherein leading scientists from relevant disciplines could come together to discuss the nature of the ongoing transition, to identify the most important contributors to the overall burden of disease, and to discuss how such information could be used to better assist policy makers in those countries establish priorities with respect to the prevention and management of the main causes of ill health as well as to plan for the likely demand for certain types of health care in the future; and

2.  to build on the workshop discussions by developing a research agenda focused on novel analyses and data collection strategies that would afford policy makers a better understanding of current and emerging health-related needs and enhance their assessment of the potential impact of policy options.

The public workshop was held in Johannesburg, South Africa, on October 21–22, 2011. The workshop reviewed the changes that have taken place in the past 15 years in this rapidly moving area of inquiry, updated trends and their implications for health policy, coordinated data analysis across demographic surveillance sites and from new surveys and other sources, considered methodological challenges related to dealing with data from demographic surveillance sites, and explored new theoretical perspectives on demographic modeling and their application to modeling the epidemiological transition. The agenda for the October 2011 Johannesburg workshop is found in Appendix A and a list of the workshop participants is offered in Appendix B.

In advance of the workshop the panel commissioned a set of background papers from prominent researchers in order to summarize extant research findings and further the goals of the meeting. These papers covered a range of research topics related to the epidemiological transition in sub-Saharan Africa, including changing patterns of child and adult mortality and causes of death in Africa (Masquelier, Reniers, and Pison), the uniqueness of the sub-Saharan Africa context (Defo), the role of migration in epidemiological transitions (Collinson et al.), risk exposures and comparative risk assessment (Ezzati), comparisons between the emerging epidemiological transition in Africa and Asia (Tollman et al.), the economic implications of the epidemiological transition (Elovainio and Evans), and the state of data collection (Byass, de Savigny, and Lopez). These commissioned papers became the basis for the presentations. They will be published separately in an appropriate journal.

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