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WHO Holds 2-Day Meeting To Discuss Need For Global Health Statistics

“At a two-day meeting organized and hosted by the World Health Organization (WHO) [in Geneva], 60 leaders in the field of global health statistics drew up a set of proposals to improve the world’s ability to count the sick and the dead,” ScienceInsider reports. “They called for helping countries to collect better information on disease and death and pledged to work together to produce the best estimates from the sparse data sometimes available,” the news service writes, adding, “The participants also agreed to try to better explain their work to each other and to the wider public health community by, for instance, sharing data sets and specialized software as much as possible” and “developing ways to encourage regular communication between researchers working in the area” (Vogel, 2/14).

“‘More than 100 countries do not have a system that registers births and deaths, and only 34 countries — representing just 15 percent of the world’s population — produce quality cause-of-death data,’ says Dr. Ties Boerma, director of health statistics and information systems at WHO,” adding, “Accurate health data are critical for a better understanding of the health situation and to determine where we need to focus attention and resources,” a WHO press release states. “Where there are no accurate data, statistical modeling is used to predict levels and trends, sometimes with large uncertainty,” the press release notes (2/15).