By Gift Briton

With most developing nations lacking accurate data, including data on birth counts, deaths, and causes of death, the Health Data Collaborative (HDC) platform by the World Health Organization (WHO) is supporting the strengthening of health information systems in countries to improve health outcomes.

According to WHO, the available health data in most countries are often fragmented and incomplete making it harder for policymakers to evaluate and track the progress of public health interventions.

Moreover, lack of data also limits policy-makers from making evidence-based decisions to inform policies and planning, with studies showing that four in ten deaths globally are not registered.

HDC is a platform that brings together stakeholders in the health sector, including ministries of health from member countries, to share experiences and best practices for collecting, analyzing, storing, and using data to align their financial and technical resources around a common agenda for measurement and accountability.

Speaking during the ongoing HDC annual stakeholders meeting in Nairobi, Kenya, Craig Burgess-Head of the Data Governance Unit and External Partnerships at WHO- noted that many countries still cannot track the progress of sustainable goals 2030 and several communities are left behind because most countries either cannot record and analyze data or the systems are not in place to record the right data.

“The health data collaborative helps countries monitor progress and have better information, especially on sustainable development goals and communities left behind including people living in quasi-legal situations, those living in fragile settings as well as those affected by stigma and discrimination,” he said.

Burgess adds that HDC supports countries to access and develop technical and financial data priorities for their health systems by being part of a technical working group. The collaboration also helps countries to have a stronger voice to lead partners to reduce data fragmentation and to align resources with government priorities.

Dr Ayub Manya-Chairperson for the health information system technical working group- notes that several countries have benefitted from the platform through the sharing of best practices to improve the monitoring and evaluation of our systems.

“Data is important because it helps to effectively evaluate progress. If you plan to have every person treated in time, then you need to show that person was treated. Data can also be used for planning purposes. Data is one of the key pillars of strong health systems, without data the health system will not work. Data shows you where you are going, and where you are coming from. So from this conference, we hope to learn from each other and plan a way forward. And be able to bring the stakeholders together for a common purpose. Stakeholder engagements, experience sharing and the government taking the lead in the data management,” he said.