Data for Health Program Overview

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 an eight-year initiative. It has been co-funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Australian government, and beginning in 2019 through a first-time partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

The initiative was started in 2015 as a four-year initiative and entered into a second phase in 2019 with expanded geographic reach and programmatic scope, including through the Global Grants Program, legal and regulatory reviews and cancer registries.



  • Collect data on deaths and births, improving country-level ownership of health data.
  • Use public health data to inform policy priorities, especially by improving the ability to track trends and plan interventions at the national level.

In select countries, we:

  • Conduct public health surveys using gold-standard methods while testing new innovations to monitor major risk factors for early death.
  • Enhance or establish cancer registries by providing countries with technical assistance to design registries; train staff; establish government coordinating units; and to analyze and present data.

Global grants program:

  • The program aims to support focused projects that align with the Data for Health Initiative mission in countries that fall outside of the Data for Health priority areas. More information about the program and ways to apply can be found here.