In Washington, UN health agency and partners convene summit on improving health data

Accurate and timely health data are the foundation to improving public health, says Dr. Margaret Chan, WHO Director-General. Illustration: The World Bank Photo: WHO/S. Cumberland

9 June 2015 – With more two-thirds of the world’s population living in countries that do not produce reliable statistics on mortality by age, sex and cause of death, the World Health Organization (WHO) and its partners are leading an international collaboration in measurement and accountability for global public health over the next 15 years.

“Accurate and timely health data are the foundation to improving public health. Without reliable information to set priorities and measure results, countries and their development partners are working in the dark,” WHO Director-General Dr. Margaret Chan told the Measurement and Accountability for Results in Health Summit, meeting from today through 11 June in Washington, D.C.

WHO, together with the World Bank and the US Agency for International Development (USAID), is leading the international collaboration to improve support for countries to have strong health information systems.

At the summit, dozens of global health leaders from governments, multilaterals, academia, research institutions and civil society will endorse The Roadmap for Health Measurement and Accountability and a 5-Point Call to Action, which outline a shared strategic approach and priority actions and targets that countries and development partners can use to put effective health monitoring plans in place.

Jim Yong Kim, President of the World Bank Group, said: “Today’s investments in country health information systems will lead to a better tomorrow for billions of people.”

Also today, WHO and partners launched the Global Reference List of 100 Core Health Indicators to improve measurement and accountability for global public health.

The aim of the list, according to WHO, is to reduce excessive and duplicative reporting requirements that currently burden countries and improve harmonization, and serve as “a global standard for health data collection in countries and align global health partners.”

In her address to the health summit, Dr. Chan referred to the “post-2015 development agenda” and its emphasis on transparency, accountability, and measureable results is increasing every day.

“But measurement and accountability depend on data that simply do not exist in the countries we are serving,” she said. “Over 100 countries, representing more than two-thirds of the world’s population, do not have systems for civil registration and vital statistics that produce reliable data on causes of death.”

“Without these data, countries and their development partners are working in the dark, throwing money into a black hole,” she warned.

Dr. Ties Boerma, WHO Director of the Department of Health Statistics and Information Systems, elaborated further on the global commitment to improve data by saying that targets include countries having electronic systems in at least 80 per cent of health facilities for real-time reporting of health statistics by 2025.

Dr. Boerma also said that “by 2030, all births worldwide should be recorded in a civil registration system, and all hospitals should use the WHO standard ICD (International Classification of Disease) to report the cause of every death in their facility.”

Panellists at the Summit will discuss issues related to building country capacity and demand for health data, including topics such as data revolution and the importance of country and global accountability.


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