WHO Director-General shines light on "invisible" births and deaths
26 January 2011
Dr Margaret Chan, WHO Director-General, addressed the first meeting of the United Nations Secretary-General's Commission on Information and Accountability for Women's and Children's Health. She said, "I tell you, currently more than 100 countries do not have well-developed civil registration systems. This means that many births and many deaths globally are invisible."
Dr Chan told the meeting, including Commission co-Chairs, H.E. Mr Jakaya Kikwete, President of Tanzania and H.E. Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada that for true accountability every birth and death must be counted. "Countries need to know how many people are born and die each year ― and why they are dying," she stated. "Accountability must be based on accurate data which is key to help leaders make the best decisions to provide quality health care services to their people."
The Commission will propose steps to improve health information and registration of births and deaths in low-income countries. It will explore how information technology can improve data collection and access to reliable information on investments and outcomes.
Through its collaboration with partners, support for innovation, and direct investments to develop standards and tools and learn lessons from country implementation activities, the Health Metrics Network (HMN) can help implement the recommendations of the Commission for strengthened national systems to count births, deaths and causes of death.
HMN is lending its support to the growing political momentum for improved birth and death registration, particularly in the Africa and Asia-Pacific regions. Working with regional and academic partners, HMN will help build statistical and national health information system capacities that support rational political decision-making and enable accountability mechanisms to function effectively in support of the health and survival of women and children.