Bloomberg Philanthropies has announced a four-year, $120 million commitment, including $11 million from Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, in support of the next phase of its Data for Health initiative.
Launched in 2015 to help governments of low- and middle-income countries gather accurate data about the health of their citizens, the $100 million initiative has supported the efforts of twenty governments to modernize and improve their national birth registration systems, teach medical professionals and community health workers how to more accurately and consistently record causes of death, and train policy makers how to use data in their decision-making processes.
According to Bloomberg Philanthropies, less than half of all deaths around the world are registered with a cause, while 40 percent of the 128 million births each year are not officially recorded — often resulting in those children being denied access to health care, education, and government services.
With the new funds, Data for Health will expand the number of countries participating in the initiative from twenty to twenty-five, with a focus on improving laws that impose fees and administrative barriers for families looking to register a death and using World Health Organization guidelines to track cancer data in select countries through the establishment of population-based cancer registries. In addition to improving the quality of birth and death registrations and the use of that data by decision makers, a number of participating governments will use mobile surveys to monitor noncommunicable disease risk factors such as tobacco use.
Partners in the initiative include the University of Melbourne, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Vital Strategies, Johns Hopkins University, the Global Health Advocacy Incubator, and WHO.
"Bloomberg Philanthropies' investment in Data for Health has enabled our team at Johns Hopkins University to confirm the feasibility and acceptability of mounting mobile phone surveys across diverse settings in Africa, Asia, and Latin America," said George Pariyo, senior scientist in the Department of International Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. "This new award will help us further develop strategies to improve the quality and reliability of the data, and to ensure that mobile surveys are more representative of disadvantaged populations who are often less likely to respond to surveys."