SciDev.Net Examines Usefulness Of Global Health Data For Policymakers

“The Global Burden of Disease (GBD) Study 2010, launched last December, brought unparalleled access to analyses of health and mortality trends spanning two decades,” but “hurdles remain in ensuring the accessibility and usefulness of data for policymakers in the global South,”SciDev.Net reports. “On 5 March, the GBD 2010 consortium, led by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, is set to publish its health estimates for individual countries, adding further nuance to the health datasets for 21 world regions published in December’s study,” the news service adds, noting, “The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which funds the study, will also unveil plans for what has been dubbed ‘GBD 2.0.'”

“But making this vast labyrinth of data accessible to policymakers in developing countries remains a major challenge,” SciDev.Net writes, adding, “Another challenge is dealing with discrepancies in data interpretation.” “‘How can we translate and allow people to interpret and play with the data so that they feel comfortable that it is meaningful?’ Mickey Chopra, chief of health at UNICEF (the U.N. Children’s Fund), asked during the GBD launch,” the news service notes. “A draft recommendation from the meeting says that, while ‘considerable progress has been made in the field of global health estimation methods, much work remains to be done to strengthen country data and capacity, improve transparency, and allow debate on methods,'” according to SciDev.Net, which adds, “Participants stressed the need to forge a ‘solid empirical basis for monitoring health trends’ and proposed specific mechanisms for this” (Mathers, 2/21).

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