Global Health Observatory (GHO) data

About the Health Equity Monitor

Health equity is the absence of unfair and avoidable or remediable differences in health interventions and outcomes among groups of people. Data that are presented according to social, demographic, economic or geographical factors can help to identify vulnerable populations and target health policies, programmes and practices. Disaggregated data are useful to track progress on health goals, revealing differences between sub-groups that overall averages may mask. Health equity data provide an evidence base for equity-oriented interventions, and are a key component of mainstreaming gender, equity and human rights as well as equity-oriented progress towards universal health coverage.

The Health Equity Monitor currently includes reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health indicators, disaggregated by education, economic status, place of residence (rural vs. urban) subnational region and child’s sex (where applicable). ). Data are based on Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS), Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys (MICS) and Reproductive Health Surveys (RHS) conducted in 111 countries, 108 of which are low- or middle-income countries.

Core components of the Health Equity Monitor include the database, equity country profiles and interactive visuals:

  • The database presents data for over 30 reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health indicators, collected from more than 330 surveys in 1991–2015. For more than nine out of ten countries, data are available for at least two time points.
  • Equity country profiles highlight disaggregated data for 111 study countries where a DHS, MICS or RHS was conducted between 1991 and 2015 and data are publicly available.
  • Interactive visualizations show inequalities in select health interventions and outcomes (latest situation and change over time).

Data were derived from re-analysis of DHS, MICS and RHS micro-data. In general, standard indicator definitions were adopted, as published in DHS, MICS and RHS documentation. The analysis was done by the WHO Collaborating Center for Health Equity Monitoring (International Center for Equity in Health, Federal University of Pelotas, Brazil).



  • In a few cases there may be minor differences between the data reported here and in previous DHS or MICS country reports due to small discrepancies in the definition and calculation of some indicators. Detailed information about the criteria used to calculate the indicator numerator and denominator values used in these analyses is available in the WHO Indicator and Measurement Registry.
  • Surveys were generally conducted over a one or two year period, thus the initial year may indicate the first year of data collection, or the sole year of data collection.
  • For data disaggregated by economic status, a wealth index based on owning selected assets and having access to certain services was constructed using principal components analysis. The index was divided into wealth quintiles within each country. Wealth index and quintile variables are available in the original datasets. Technical information about calculating wealth variables is available from
  • Point estimates along with 95% confidence intervals are shown.