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Bloomberg Philanthropies Announces $120 Million Reinvestment to Expand its Data for Health Initiative

Bloomberg Philanthropies announced today the next stage in its groundbreaking initiative to help governments in developing countries gather accurate data about the health of their citizens. With an additional $120 million in funding over four years, Data for Health will expand its partnership from 20 to 25 countries—reaching 1.5 billion people—to help strengthen the quality of their birth and death registrations and use of that data by decision makers. In addition, select countries will monitor noncommunicable disease risk factors such as tobacco use through innovative mobile surveys and will establish cancer registries for the first time.

This new phase of Data for Health continues the successful partnership with the Australian government’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, which is investing $11 million toward the total. This partnership has greatly impacted improvement in data globally and has had a special impact in the Pacific region, which will be continued and deepened over the next phase.

Less than half of all deaths around the world are registered with a cause given, meaning that 29.4 million deaths go unrecorded each year. This lack of data disproportionately affects low- and middle-income countries with 60% of these countries—representing 2 billion people—not reporting any data. In addition, the births of nearly 40% of the 128 million children born each year are not officially recorded, potentially denying the child access to healthcare, education and government services.

With today’s announcement, the total amount committed to Data for Health comes to $220 million.

“Our Data for Health program has had a lot of success, collecting over three million death records so far and helping countries better understand the public health challenges they face. Now we’re answering the call to expand our efforts,” said Michael R. Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg Philanthropies and World Health Organization (WHO) Global Ambassador for Noncommunicable Diseases. “Incredibly, over half the world’s deaths still go unrecorded every year—but with more and better data on causes of death, more countries can save more lives.”

Over the past four years, Bloomberg Philanthropies has invested $100 million to help 20 low- and middle-income nations improve the quality and accuracy of birth and death registration by modernizing national reporting systems, supported government efforts to train medical professionals and community health workers to more accurately record causes of death, and established consistent reporting. Countries have also been training policy makers to use data as part of their decision-making process such as Shanghai establishing helmet laws when an analysis of traffic-related deaths showed that e-bike deaths were sharply on the rise.

Other examples of the initiative’s successful partnerships with government on improving data collection include the following:

  • In Peru, the number of death records being reported electronically has increased from just 20% in 2016 to nearly 100%. In addition, the time for data to become available has been reduced from two years to just two weeks.
  • Data on out-of-hospital deaths, which in some countries represents the majority of deaths, is being collected for the first time in 12 countries—Bangladesh, Colombia, China (Shanghai), Ghana, Morocco, Myanmar, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Rwanda, Solomon Islands, Tanzania and Zambia—and has been expanded in two additional countries.

With new funding, the Data for Health Initiative will add new strategies that focus on:

  • Working with governments to support the improvement of relevant laws like eliminating fees and administrative barriers for families to register a death.
  • Using existing WHO guidelines to track cancer data in select countries through establishment of population-based cancer registries. Understanding the burden of cancer—which is growing globally—at the national level will help countries formulate an effective response.

In order to achieve the goals,initiative will work with partners to provide governments, aid organizations, and public health leaders with the tools and systems needed to better collect data. Partners in the initiative include the University of Melbourne, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Vital Strategies, Johns Hopkins University, the World Health Organization, and Global Health Advocacy Incubator.

“The CDC Foundation is proud to continue our work with CDC to minimize critical gaps in health and mortality data that create challenges for governments in many countries to interpret and address public health problems,” said Judith Monroe, president and CEO of the CDC Foundation. “With continued support from Bloomberg Philanthropies and other key partners, we will be able to amplify our previous work and continue building countries’ capacity to use data for developing policies and communicating the most pressing public health issues to key audiences.”

“The Global Health Advocacy Incubator is pleased to be a partner in the Bloomberg Data for Health Initiative,” said Danny McGoldrick, Vice President, Global Health Advocacy Incubator. ‘We look forward to supporting locally led legal reviews that lay the groundwork for comprehensive Civil Registration and Vital Statistics reform. The resulting data will inform critical health policy that can save millions of lives.”

“Bloomberg Philanthropies’ investment in Data for Health has enabled our team at Johns Hopkins University to confirm the feasibility and acceptability of mounting mobile phone surveys across diverse settings in Africa, Asia and Latin America,” said George Pariyo, Senior Scientist, Department of International Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. “This new award will help us further develop strategies to improve the quality and reliability of the data, and to ensure that mobile surveys are more representative of disadvantaged populations who are often less likely to respond to surveys.”

“Better health decisions are more likely to be made if there is reliable evidence on which to base them,” said Alan Lopez, Laureate Professor, University of Melbourne. “The Bloomberg Data for Health Initiative has been remarkably successful in helping countries establish sound data collection practices that will enable them to do so. Everyone benefits from better data.”

“Our work with Data for Health assists governments to set up systems to collect and use data in their decision-making and policymaking, which will ultimately result in saving lives on a national scale,” said Adam Karpati, Senior Vice President of Public Health Programs, Vital Strategies. “We’re proud to be part of this work and to now help expand it to more countries.”

“Disaggregated data is essential for understanding who is being left behind, and why. But on average, countries have only 40% of the data they need to monitor progress towards universal health coverage,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization. “The Data for Health Initiative is a valuable contribution to filling in these gaps and highlighting where countries need to invest in health services to improve the health of their people.”


About Bloomberg Philanthropies:
Bloomberg Philanthropies invests in 510 cities and 129 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 giving, including his foundation and personal philanthropy as well as Bloomberg Associates, a pro bono consultancy that works in cities around the world. In 2018, Bloomberg Philanthropies distributed $767 million. For more information, please visit or follow us on FacebookInstagramYouTube and Twitter.

Jean Weinberg, +1-212-205-0247 /