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New global partnership will focus on strengthening health information systems to better address health needs worldwide

Health Metrics Network launched at World Health Assembly

Media Release Health Metrics Network

Dr LEE Jong-wook and Dr Richard Klausner at the launch of the Health Metrics Network
WHO Director-General Dr LEE Jong-wook (left) and Dr Richard Klausner, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

A new global partnership that will work to improve public health decision-making through better health information was launched today at the World Health Assembly (WHA). The Health Metrics Network (HMN), a partnership comprised of countries, multilateral and bilateral development agencies, foundations, global health initiatives and technical experts will increase the availability and use of timely, reliable health information by catalyzing the funding and development of core health information systems in developing countries.

Today, despite the efforts of many country, regional and global partners, there are significant gaps in the health information that is available to policy-makers and health practitioners.

“In some areas of the world, even basic facts such as a person's birth, their death and cause of death are not recorded," said Dr. LEE Jong-wook, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO). "The Health Metrics Network will work to close this gap by helping countries improve their ability to gather this vital health information. Accurate data is critical to identifying problems and implementing effective solutions for people's health."

HMN brings together health and statistical constituencies to build capacity and expertise for strengthening health information systems so local, regional and global decision-makers have quality data on which to base decisions to improve health.

“Health information is not simply an end in itself but provides the basis for better decision-making,” said Dr. Richard Klausner, Executive Director, Global Health, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “Good data, quality reporting and tracking, thoughtful analysis and consistent health information systems will enable decision-makers to make informed and therefore better decisions on disease control and human development.”

HMN responds to a need for evidence-based policy-making that can enable countries to make more efficient use of health budgets. In addition, other global initiatives including the Millennium Development Goals, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, Global Alliance for Vaccines & Immunization (GAVI) and the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) have increased the demand for sound health information.

HMN partners have agreed to align their individual efforts around a common health information framework thereby reducing overlapping and duplicative demands that have burdened fragile information systems in developing countries in the past.

“We have agreed to better coordinate and align our investments in the development of health information systems in accordance with the broader development agenda including the Millennium Development Goals,” according to a statement endorsed by the HMN partners.

The initial HMN partners include: African Population and Health Research Center; Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Danish International Development Agency, Department for International Development (U.K.), European Commission, Ghana Health Services, Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, GAVI, Ministry of Health, Mexico, Ministry of Public Health, Thailand, Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development, Statistics South Africa, Swedish International Development Agency, Uganda Bureau of Statistics, UNICEF, United Nations Statistics Division, U.S. Agency for International Development, World Bank, and World Health Organization.

HMN will meet its objectives through a range of activities. Low- and middle-income countries will be eligible to apply for grants of up to US$ 500 000 for health information system strengthening and can call upon HMN partners for technical assistance.

By 2011, HMN expects that at least 80 countries will be able to report on agreed, standardized global health goals and indicators in a timely and sound manner.

HMN has received an initial grant of US$ 50 million over seven years from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and additional contributions from other donors including the Department for International Development (U.K.), U.S. Agency for International Development and Danish International Development Agency.

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For more information contact:

Ms Christine McNab
Communications Officer
Director-General’s Office - WHO
Telephone: +41 22 791 4688
Mobile phone: +41 79 254 6815
E-mail: mcnabc@who.int

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