World Health Day 2017: How data is benefiting global health

Global health is one example of the many ways data and information can benefit efforts towards a more sustainable world. The World Health Organization, the organizers of World Health Day, utilize data in a variety of innovative ways through their eHealth unit; an initiative that channels the use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) for health. In their words, “The eHealth unit works with partners at the global, regional and country level to promote and strengthen the use of information and communication technologies in health development, from applications in the field to global governance.” Within this unit there are numerous projects ranging from the standardization of health-related data practices, using ICTs to improve accountability of women and children’s health, and eLearning sources for health workforce training.

As an extension of the eHealth unit, the Global Health Observatory (GHO) project was launched to provide “strategic information and guidance on effective practices and standards in eHealth.” Similar to TASCHA’s Development and Access to Information, GHO identifies access to health information as a vital component for development and sustainability. The project provides country data and statistics with a focus on comparable estimates and WHO’s analyses to monitor global, regional and country situation and trends for partnering states, with an aim to leverage global health with knowledge and information. The project, among other things, uses health data to track and improve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. The use of information and data in global health efforts is just one example of many in which the use of technology and ICTs takes us step closer to a healthier, sustainable global future.