Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Data for Health Initiative is Closing Gaps in Health Data in 19 Countries

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Data for Health Initiative is Closing Gaps in Health Data in 19 Countries

New York, NY (April 12, 2017) – Michael R. Bloomberg hosted more than 100 public health practitioners in New York, including high-level government officials from Myanmar, India, Rwanda and Ghana to discuss progress on Data for Health. Launched in partnership with the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade two years ago, Data for Health is a four-year $100 million initiative aimed at improving health data in 19 low- and middle-income countries spanning Southeast Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa, and Latin America.

“Most people don’t realize how big a problem the lack of health data is – or that nearly two-thirds of the world’s deaths go unrecorded, which is incredible,” said Mr. Bloomberg, who serves as the World Health Organization (WHO) Global Ambassador for Noncommunicable Diseases. “This is a fixable problem, and Data for Health is showing how we can do it. The fact is, there are so many problems we could solve with the right information. That’s why data drives all our work at Bloomberg Philanthropies.”


Data for Health investments have resulted in improved quality of birth and death registration by modernizing national reporting systems, training medical professionals in hospitals and communities to more accurately record cause of death and requiring better and more reporting. For example:

  • Six countries – Bangladesh, Ghana, Malawi, Morocco, Rwanda and Solomon Islands – have revised their death certification to the international standard established by the WHO; 
  • Four countries – Brazil, Myanmar, Rwanda and Sri Lanka – have begun collecting critical information on deaths that occur outside of hospitals and, as a result, data on more than 1,500 of these deaths have been collected;
  • More than 3,900 individuals from 16 countries – more than 40% of them women – have been trained in innovative methods to improve birth and death data;
  • A protocol for conducting the first-ever nationally representative standardized mobile phone survey is nearly complete; and
  • Four countries are planning to implement the new technology platform that measures risk factors for noncommunicable diseases using mobile phones.

The WHO estimates that 65% of all deaths worldwide – 35 million each year – go unrecorded. And millions of deaths lack a documented cause. Many records do not provide medically accurate or specific information. Without this information, government officials, public health leaders and funders cannot make informed decisions on priorities including how and where to direct public health resources. Knowing how many people are born and die each year – and what is causing those deaths – is critical to well-functioning health systems and to addressing need and gender equity gaps.


Bloomberg Philanthropies and the government of Australia are working together in collaboration with public health experts including the CDC Foundation, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Vital Strategies, University of Melbourne, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, and the WHO.

The 19 partner countries, reaching nearly one billion people, in the Data for Health program include:

  1. Bangladesh
  2. Brazil
  3. Colombia
  4. China (emphasis in Shanghai)
  5. Ecuador
  6. Ghana
  7. India (emphasis in Mumbai)
  8. Indonesia
  9. Malawi
  10. Morocco
  11. Myanmar
  12. Papua New Guinea
  13. Peru
  14. Philippines
  15. Rwanda
  16. Solomon Islands
  17. Sri Lanka
  18. Tanzania
  19. Zambia

About Bloomberg Philanthropies:

Bloomberg Philanthropies works in over 120 countries around the world to ensure better, longer lives for the greatest number of people. The organization focuses on five key areas for creating lasting change: Arts, Education, Environment, Government Innovation and Public Health. Bloomberg Philanthropies encompasses all of Michael R. Bloomberg’s charitable activities, including his foundation and his personal giving. In 2016, Bloomberg Philanthropies distributed $600 million. For more information, please visit or follow us on FacebookInstagramSnapchat, and Twitter.

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