ANSI - American National Standards Institute
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World Health Organization Initiative to Develop Consensus Guidelines to Improve Health Information Systems

New York, May 25, 2005

A new global initiative launched by the World Health Organization (WHO) aims to improve public health decision-making through better health information. 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 through shared agreement on goals and coordinated investments in core health information systems.

HMN partners have agreed to align their individual efforts around a common health information framework to reduce redundant and duplicative demands that have hindered information systems in developing countries in the past. HMN believes that enhancing the availability, quality, consistency, and use of health data requires greater harmonization among stakeholders around agreed technical standards.

“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 WHO Director-General Dr. LEE Jong-wook in a WHO press release. "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."

To meet its objectives, HMN will pursue three key objectives:

  • CONSENSUS GUIDELINES – HMN partners will develop consensus based guidelines to align partners around agreed upon standards, methods, and analyses.

  • COUNTRY IMPLEMENTATION – HMN partners will support developing countries in applying and adapting these guidelines to improve their health information systems, and be the catalyst that leads to the joint funding of these efforts.

  • UNIVERSAL ACCESS – HMN partners will encourage widespread use of health information through policies, systems, and incentives.

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 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.