New UN-backed global partnership aims to boost access to health information

17 May 2005 – The members of the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) today launched an innovative global partnership that seeks better access for health practitioners and policy-makers to information that would improve health care for all.

The Health Metrics Network (HMN) is comprised of countries, multilateral and bilateral development agencies, foundations, global health initiatives and technical experts and aims to boost the availability and use of timely, reliable health information by drawing together the funding and development of core health information systems in developing countries.

“In some areas of the world, even basic facts such as a person's birth, their death and cause of death are not recorded," said WHO Director-General Dr. Lee Jong-wook. “The Health Metrics Network will work to close this gap by helping countries improve their ability to gather this vital health information. Accurate data is critical to identifying problems and implementing effective solutions for people's health.”

HMN will also bring together health and statistical constituencies to build capacity and expertise for strengthening health information systems so local, regional and global decision-makers have quality data on which to base decisions to improve health. It responds to a need for evidence-based policy-making that can enable countries to make more efficient use of health budgets.

In addition, other global initiatives including the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, Global Alliance for Vaccines & Immunization (GAVI) and the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) have increased the demand for sound health information.

The Network has received an initial grant of $50 million over seven years from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and additional contributions from other donors, including the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development, the United States Agency for International Development (UNAID) and the Danish International Development Agency.

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