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Health data include many gaps, particularly relating to poorer areas of the world, so complex estimation techniques are needed to get overall global pictures. Estimates of population health, however, carry their own uncertainties and may be flawed in some instances. Here we present a range of reflections on the Global Burden of Disease 2010 estimates, highlighting their strengths as well as challenges for potential users. In the long term, there can be no substitute for properly counting and accounting for all the world's citizens, so that complex estimation techniques are not needed.