How to Turn Big Health Data Into Big Health Action
Monday, June 15, 2015
Mobile technology has revolutionized data-collection tools for health workers, but unless that data creates meaningful change, the “data revolution” will struggle to revolutionize global health systems for patients and providers.
The World Bank, U.S. Agency for International Development and the World Health Organization announced this week a new Roadmap for Health Measurement and Accountability and a Five-Point Call to Action, gathering at the World Bank’s headquarters in Washington, D.C. to engage with global health and development professionals at the Measurement and Accountability for Results in Health Summit.
Many health information systems around the world struggle to meet current data demands, and in the face of the post-2015 sustainable development goals, are ill-equipped to meet forthcoming data requirements.
Approximately 100 countries — representing over two thirds of the world’s population — lack adequate civil registration systems and reliable data collection techniques to record causes of death according to Margaret Chan, director-general of the WHO, who spoke during the summit’s kickoff on Tuesday.
“Without these data, countries and their development partners are working in the dark — throwing money into a black hole,” Chan said, adding sarcastically, “Oh yes, that is very cooperative.”
But as participants at the summit pointed out, more data and better equipped data collection systems do not necessarily mean improved global health outcomes.
Data collection is “not an end in itself,” but rather an “investment,” according to Ambassador Jimmy Kolker, assistant secretary for global health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.