Data for Health

Today, approximately half of all deaths in the world go unrecorded, and health policy decisions are often based on inadequate information. The Data for Health Initiative (D4H), co-funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Australian government, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, partners with low- and middle-income countries to strengthen and standardize birth and death records and to better inform policymaking and improve public health outcomes. This website serves as a central resource for materials produced under D4H to inform and support government efforts to strengthen their public health data systems.

To date, countries representing more than 5 billion people have received technical assistance through D4H to improve their public health data – including by collecting data on deaths in rural areas for the first time ever. More than 17 million death records have been newly collected or improved, and more than 120,000 health professionals have been trained to better collect or analyze related information. In select countries, Data for Health also tests new ways of monitoring risk factors for early death, namely mobile phone surveys. The initiative also supports cancer registries that track diagnosis, treatment, and outcomes at the country level.

As part of its newest phase, Data for Health has expanded its partnership to more than 50 countries reaching over 5 billion people; we now have multi-year comprehensive partnerships with governments in 25 countries and are now also including support for smaller scale time-bound projects in 34 countries so far, with more planned. The smaller scale projects are supported through the Global Grants Program.


1. Support collection of country-level death and birth data

Funding staff in government offices to:

  • Assess current birth and death data systems
  • Identify gaps between current systems and best practices
  • Fund international experts to work with in-country staff to improve data systems, including new cancer registries that track diagnosis, treatment, and outcomes at the country level
  • Support the development of a library of best-practice materials for our countries (and all countries globally)
  • Provide expertise for countries to conduct reviews of their health data laws and support for improvement if needed

2. Better monitor major risk factors for early death

Making data collection and analysis of risk factors for early death from noncommunicable disease more efficient and effective by:

  • Funding international experts to develop new mobile phone-based surveys
  • Supporting technical development of surveys in local languages
  • Paying for in-country staff to administer survey and analyze results

3. Better use data to inform policy priorities, track trends, and plan interventions

Funding staff in government offices to:

  • Assess current use of data for policymaking
  • Identify opportunities to use data to tackle local health challenges (e.g. smoke-free laws in Shanghai)
  • Provide trainings, translation of materials, and new technology (e.g. software and website templates)