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Better data for health partnership

Better data for health partnership

One of the biggest contributors to preventable deaths isn't a health problem but a record-keeping problem - and it is one that can be solved. 

InnovationXchange’s collaboration with Bloomberg Philanthropies

InnovationXchange is partnering with Bloomberg Philanthropies to start making poor people count.


  • Our goal is to significantly improve peoples’ health outcomes by improving the health information on which government decisions are made
  • Our approach involves working on three tracks:
    • data on births and deaths: providing expertise to governments to improve birth and death data
    • data on risks: rolling out innovative, mobile phone surveys on health risk factors (tobacco, nutrition, etc.)
    • data use: improving use of data by policymakers and health agencies
  • We will reach 1 billion people across 20 countries and cities with better data and equip government’s with the tools to put that data to good use

The Problem

Worldwide more than 65 per cent of deaths (about 40 million) each year do not have a death certificate and do not have a documented cause of death. Although global and country-level estimates of causes of death and risk factors for death exist, these are often ‘guestimates’ of variable quality. So many governments are ‘flying blind’ on where to target their public health resources. Further, 40 million children are born every year without a birth certificate. This has profound consequences for their lives.

The Solution

InnovationXchange and Bloomberg Philanthropies are working together to make better health information available to governments to allow them to run their health systems effectively. A ‘data for health’ initiative will help countries:

  • Improve birth and death certificate systems
  • Conduct efficient public health surveys to monitor major risk factors for early death (such as smoking, obesity, etc)
  • Support governments to strategically use public health data to inform policy priorities

Mobile phone surveys could reduce survey time by more than 50 per cent.

Implementation of in-person household surveys takes about 2 years from conception to data release, on average. In part, this is because household collection of surveys is time consuming. Introducing mobile phone data collection eliminates the need for field time, potentially reducing survey time from 2 years to less than 6 months.

Countries involved

20 pilot countries have been invited to join the initiative. Several of Australia’s important partner countries have accepted the offer and are now participating, such as: Indonesia, Philippines, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea. 

Expected Impact

  • 250 million people with high-quality birth and death certificate system
  • 750 million people living in countries with substantially improved cause of death information
  • 2 million deaths a year with a documented cause of death for the first time ever
  • 650 million people living in a country with a rapid, efficient survey to collect health risk factor data

Total Budget: US$100 million over 4 years starting in 2015. The innovationXchange and DFAT’s global health team are making an initial $20m contribution over the first two years.

Implementing partners

In addition to working with Bloomberg Philanthropies, this initiative provides the opportunity for DFAT to work with some new partners, including:

  • University of Melbourne
  • John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
  • Union North America CDC, US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention

Additional Information

See article in The Lancet for more information about Data for Health

More information about Bloomberg Philanthropies here [refer to]

Additional technical information about the D4H approach [here]