Data for Health

Less than half of all deaths around the world are registered with a cause of death, meaning that 29.4 million deaths go unrecorded each year. This lack of data means that many health policy decisions are made without adequate information. While there are reliable global numbers of leading causes of death, many individual countries lack the basic information they need to make informed decisions.

The lack of data disproportionately affects low- and middle-income countries with 60 percent of these countries not reporting any data, covering 2 billion people. Additionally, nearly 40 percent of the 128 million babies born worldwide each year are not officially registered.

While our focus is on helping improve death data, we also help improve birth data in countries where we work.

The Data for Health initiative seeks to address this very issue and works to improve public health data so that governments are equipped with the tools and systems to collect and use data to prioritize health challenges, develop policies, deploy resources, and measure success.

Data for Health partners with low- and middle-income governments (both national and city-level) to strengthen their public health data and improve the way they use this information to make policy decisions and public health investments.

Data for Health is a four-year, $100 million initiative co-funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Australian government through the leadership of Minister for Foreign Affairs, Julie Bishop, MP.


With a goal of improving public health and saving lives, we partner with countries to:

  • Collect data on deaths and births, improving country-level ownership of health data.
  • Conduct public health surveys using gold-standard methods while testing new innovations to monitor major risk factors for early death.
  • Use public health data to inform policy priorities, especially by improving the ability to track trends and plan interventions at the national level.

Data for Health – Brazil


Read the Case Study

To date, 20 countries have partnered with Data for Health, reaching more than 1 billion people in:


Brazil China (focus in Shanghai) Colombia



India (focus in Mumbai)







Papua New Guinea


Solomon Islands

Sri Lanka Tanzania Turkey


Ten of 12 countries not using the international death certificate at the outset of Data for Health have changed their death certificate to align with international standards including Bangladesh, Ghana, Malawi, Morocco, Peru, Rwanda,  Solomon Islands, Sri Lanka and Zambia

Data on out-of-hospital deaths, which in some countries represents most deaths, is being collected by the government for the first time in 12 countries. Governments are reallocating existing resources, including staffing, to immediately find sustainable ways to use existing staff to collect routine death data in Myanmar (using midwives), Rwanda (using home-based care practitioners), and Tanzania (using community health workers).

In Morocco and Zambia, pilot projects to conduct national mobile phone surveys that collect noncommunicable disease risk factor data have begun. This is the first time that a national-scale mobile phone survey of this kind has been conducted, and the results are being compared to WHO’s STEPwise survey in the same countries to evaluate accuracy and representativeness of this innovation.



  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: To provide technical assistance on recording causes of death, create cellphone risk factor surveys, and support public health practitioners in government to improve use health data for effective policymaking.
  • Johns Hopkins University: To develop best practice protocol on the development of cellphone risk factor surveys and evaluate their impacts
  • University of Melbourne: To support birth & death systems experts to work with governments.
  • Vital Strategies: To help hire government-embedded staff, provide programmatic support to birth and death systems, and provide technical assistance to integrate health data into policy decision-making.
  • World Health Organization: To conduct gold standard STEPwise household survey and produce a technical package on best practices in strengthening health data systems.
  • United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific: Partnership and collaboration to extend the reach of Data for Health to non-focus countries in Asia and the Pacific through its existing network. Data for Health is also a member of the Asia-Pacific Regional Steering Group on CRVS, an advisory body guiding the implementation of the Regional Action Framework on CRVS and broader CRVS improvement activities throughout the Asia and the Pacific CRVS Decade from 2015 to 2024.
  • United Nations Economic Commission for Africa: Collaborate to extend the reach of Data for Health to non-focus countries in Africa through their existing network. Data for Health is a member of the African regional CRVS Core Group, an advisory body that provides technical and financial support to the Africa Programme for Accelerated Improvement of Civil Registration and Vital Statistics (APAI-CRVS) and the implementation of regional CRVS improvement activities during the African Decade for CRVS from 2017-2026.