Eighteen Countries have Partnered with Bloomberg Philanthropies’ $100M Data for Health Initiative

Partners with Governments Committed to Improving Health Data to Address Greatest Public Health Needs

Initiative has the potential to impact the lives of one billion people

NEW YORK, June 21, 2016 /PRNewswire/ — Bloomberg Philanthropies today announced partnerships with the first 18 countries that will receive critical technical assistance and catalytic funding for new tools and systems to help nations gather accurate data about the health of their citizens. Launched in partnership  with the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade just over one year ago, Data for Health is a four-year, $100 million initiative aimed at improving health data in low- and middle-income countries spanning Southeast Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa, and Latin America. The first 18 partner countries, reaching nearly one billion people, in the Data for Health program include:

  1. Bangladesh
  2. Brazil
  3. China (emphasis in Shanghai)
  4. Ecuador
  5. Ghana
  6. India (emphasis in Mumbai)
  7. Indonesia
  8. Malawi
  9. Morocco
  10. Myanmar
  11. Papua New Guinea
  12. Peru
  13. Philippines
  14. Rwanda
  15. Solomon Islands
  16. Sri Lanka
  17. Tanzania
  18. Zambia

“Improving the availability and accuracy of global health data is one of the greatest opportunities we have to help people live longer, healthier lives. The more we know about causes of death and illness, the better we can target resources and measure progress,” said Michael R. Bloomberg.

Examples of Progress in Data for Health Partner Countries:

Many partner countries have identified gaps in comprehensive national birth and death data systems, making it difficult for public health leaders to address urgent health challenges. Without accurate data, country governments are unable to make informed decisions about public health priorities and programs, but this is a problem that can be solved. Roughly two-thirds of all deaths in the world—about 35 million a year—are unrecorded, according to the World Health Organization. And among the one third of deaths that do have a death certificate, about three-quarters lack a specific cause of death, meaning that public-health leaders often don’t know what diseases people may be dying of prematurely.

Working together with government leaders who are committed to improving their public health data, the Data for Health initiative is informed by each country’s priorities and how the program can help them reach their goals. For example, in its first year:

  • Brazil: In Brazil, where scientists have offered the first direct proof that the Zika virus causes birth defects, the Data for Health partnership created an integrated database that links information on birth, congenital malformations, lab reports, mosquito infestations, and treatments. The government of Brazil has been using these data analytics in its response to the outbreak, and has made the data available to the public in order to expedite solutions to this growing threat.
  • Solomon Islands: In the Solomon Islands, a nation of hundreds of islands in the South Pacific, the Data for Health partnership is working with the government to re-design death certificates so that doctors are required to give more specific and pertinent information in line with global best practice. The recording of death and birth certificates is critical because without it, governments, donors, and non-governmental organizations can not accurately target resources to prevent deaths and diseases, and have no way to measure whether their efforts are working.
  • Rwanda: For the first time in its history, the Ministry of Health in Rwanda will systematically collect information on deaths outside of the hospital setting. This is a critical step toward understanding leading causes of death in Rwanda, where an estimated 95% of all deaths occur outside of hospitals.

Tactics to Address the Gap: The Data For Health Initiative:

Bloomberg Philanthropies and the government of Australia are working together in collaboration with public health experts including the CDC Foundation, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Vital Strategies, University of Melbourne, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, and the World Health Organization.

In each country, the Data for Health initiative is guided by government priorities, and focused on finding innovative ways to help countries improve how data are collected and used. Once a country partnership is formed and priority areas have been collectively identified, two Data for Health-funded experts with experience in health data collection and analytics are provided to the government to support the work. In addition to funding in-country staff, Data for Health shares global best practices by connecting country staff with global networks.

Strategies of special focus include:

  • Improving Death Certification to Understand Cause of Death – In countries that have prioritized better documentation of causes of death, we will help improve systems for training medical staff, which will lead to more data on why and where people are dying. In addition, we will help make high-quality birth and death certificates a standard practice in more countries. The initiative will create state of the art manuals, global curricula, and improve upon existing electronic birth and death registration software.
  • Training to Analyze Data for Health Policy Decisions – To improve public health policy, we are supporting training and technological enhancements that make it easier for policy makers to use available data in their decision-making.
  • Using Mobile Phones for National Health Surveys – Some participating countries are seeking a better understanding of the effect of non-communicable diseases but in many cases data is still collected through in-person surveys, which are time and resource intensive, especially in remote regions. Introducing mobile phone data collection eliminates the need for field operations, potentially reducing the time to carry out a survey from two years to less than six months.

Michael R. Bloomberg continued, “By coordinating global efforts, working with committed countries, and highlighting innovative practices that can be replicated around the world, Data for Health can benefit billions of people.”

About Bloomberg Philanthropies:
Bloomberg Philanthropies works in over 120 countries around the world to ensure better, longer lives for the greatest number of people. The organization focuses on five key areas for creating lasting change: Arts, Education, Environment, Government Innovation and Public Health. Bloomberg Philanthropies encompasses all of Michael R. Bloomberg’s charitable activities, including his foundation and his personal giving. In 2015, Bloomberg Philanthropies distributed over half a billion dollars. For more information, please visit bloomberg.org or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat: Bloombergdotorg and Twitter @BloombergDotOrg.