By Cho-Yau Ling
Each year, more than 50 million people die around the globe and for many, the actual cause of death is never recorded. That fact alone is quite troubling, but a critical carry-on issue is that not knowing the cause of death presents a major obstacle in developing data-driven policies that can improve public health outcomes in low- and middle-income countries.
Last month, Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Australian government announced a new Data for Health initiative that will assist 20 low- and middle-income countries across Latin America, Asia and Africa in strengthening their public health data systems and use of data for critical policy-making decisions. This innovative $100 million effort is aimed at solving the world’s most pressing public health problems using technology and data to help fill major gaps in global health. Bloomberg Philanthropies describes the initiative as seeking to provide governments, aid organizations, and public health leaders with tools and systems to better collect data—and use it to prioritize health challenges, develop policies, deploy resources, and measure success.
The CDC Foundation is honored to partner with Bloomberg Philanthropies in one aspect of the initiative. In this work, the CDC Foundation, in partnership with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), will support dedicated government staff in-country to strengthen birth and death registration systems and improve information on cause of death. In addition, this partnership will support and convene experts to create the best-in-class mobile phone risk factor surveys for noncommunicable diseases. Finally, the partnership will help in-country, CDC-supported Field Epidemiology Training Program (FETP) residents and National Public Health Institute staff improve capacity in Ministries of Health to use health data to inform policy development.
We are grateful to Bloomberg Philanthropies, in partnership with the Australian government, for funding this initiative that will gather vital health data, target resources and save lives. More than 1.2 billion people will be impacted by this project, living in countries with improved capacity to use data to inform critical public health decisions.
Ling is a senior program officer with the CDC Foundation