The use of mortality data as a fundamental component of the public policy process is related in part to their widespread availability and timeliness. While statistics on causes of death are undoubtedly useful for public health surveillance, they do not adequately represent a population's level of health, as they disregard the importance of widely prevalent, severely disabling conditions. An ideal health metric is therefore one which simultaneously measures and contrasts both fatal and non-fatal health outcomes. Indeed, such a measure is needed to assess the benefits of health interventions, which may reduce both mortality and the period of life lived in a disabled state.
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