A health worker in Bangladesh showing tuberculosis case detection information on a whiteboard"> A health worker in Bangladesh showing tuberculosis case detection information on a whiteboard"> A health worker in Bangladesh showing tuberculosis case detection information on a whiteboard">

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WHO presents Bangladesh story to show the world benefits of better health data
Online Desk |:| Sat, 12 Mar'2016, 2:50 PM |:| Online Version
WHO presents Bangladesh story to show the world benefits of better health data
A health worker in Bangladesh showing tuberculosis case detection information on a whiteboard. Photo: WHO

The World Health Organization has presented a Bangladesh story to make the world understand the need for better data to change the health systems.

The Geneva-based UN agency on its website posted a story on Thursday titled ‘changing health systems with better data’.

It portrays how Bangladesh used technology to improve the way data are collected and used.

The story was posted after the launch of the Health Data Collaborative on Wednesday, an informal partnership involving WHO and other development agencies, countries, donors and academics.

“This is a global recognisation of our work,” Prof Abul Kalam Azad, Additional Director General and Director of Management Information System of the health ministry, told bdnews24.com.

WHO says less than a decade ago, visiting a clinic in Bangladesh meant a patient’s data went into 1 of 33 separate systems, none of which were linked.

Data from private and public clinics in urban and rural areas were fragmented in a chaotic patchwork, resulting in heavy paperwork for health workers and less time for patient care.

Things began to change in 2009.

With support from WHO, the government of Germany, and other partners, a more modern approach was introduced that integrates all data into one coherent health information system.

The benefits are both local, allowing health workers to follow pregnant women and children, and national, enabling more efficient and effective planning as well as rapid response to spikes in disease through the use of real-time data.

Today, as per the story, more than 13, 000 health facilities across Bangladesh report data electronically, and about 40, 000 health workers use the system.

"It all means less paperwork for health workers, better planning, and better care for people," WHO says.

The objective of the Health Data Collaborative is to strengthen country capacity for health data by getting an array of global partners to work together to support country needs, instead of adding to their workload.
By 2024, it expects that 60 low income and lower-middle income countries and supporting donors will be using common investment plans to strengthen health information systems, and that countries will transition away from international assistance for these systems by 2030.

The Collaborative’s first product is a list of 100 core health indicators, which attempts to narrow the focus on a small, agreed upon set of health metrics, instead of the more than 600 indicators that some countries have previously reported on under their various relationships with donors.

Bangladesh is one of the first countries to receive support from the Health Data Collaborative for its “overarching monitoring and evaluation strategy”, WHO says.

“The country has shown how technology can be harnessed to improve the way data are collected and used.”

WHO says no health system can operate without good information. But over two-thirds of the world's population lives in countries that do not produce reliable statistics on mortality by age, sex, and cause of death – one of the most important health indicators for understanding a country's health priorities.

Only half of countries reported cause of death data to WHO in 2014, and more than 100 countries worldwide don’t have reliable systems for registering births and deaths.

Many countries lack good data on their health workforce, or for their health financing system.

A lack of data makes it harder to make good decisions about where to target resources to improve health and help people to live longer, healthier and more productive lives.

The UN Sustainable Development Goals, adopted in September 2015, set an ambitious agenda for a fairer, safer and healthier world, with 17 goals and 169 targets.

It’s clear that achieving the goals will require reliable data, in order to properly understand the scale of the work to be done, and to make good decisions about how to allocate resources for the most efficient and effective results, WHO says in the story.

In April, Bangladesh is hosting a Health Data Collaborative meeting to share experiences with other nations.

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