Measuring progress towards the Millennium Development Goals and beyond

MANILA, 23 October 2013 – Strengthening civil registration and vital statistics is essential for tracking progress towards the Millennium Development Goals and other health outcomes, according to World Health Organization (WHO). Such data are vital for evidence-based policy and identifying key health needs.

“Recording vital events—such as births, deaths and causes of death—is critically important for both individuals and societies,” said Dr Shin Young-soo, Regional Director at the WHO Regional Office for the Western Pacific. “Data obtained from such systems are crucial for the majority of the indicators for the Millennium Development Goals.”

WHO urges Member States to strengthen their data systems and increase collaboration in this area, focusing on fertility, mortality and health trends. These indicators are crucial to monitoring the burden of disease in a country’s population. The relevance of reliable data to many sectors, such as health, social security and education, makes collaboration paramount.

“Trustworthy data also provide the evidence base for priority interventions and allocating resources,” stated Dr Shin. Improved data collection will also facilitate tracking equity goals and progress towards universal health coverage, a common objective for Member States and WHO in the Region. “The health sector itself depends on dependable data to identify emerging health threats and high-risk groups”.

WHO has developed a regional action plan with other partners, with the aim of building well-functioning civil registration and vital statistics systems throughout the Region by 2020. WHO provides countries with technical assistance so that they can achieve this goal. In 2010, WHO conducted a rapid assessment of data systems in Member States to assess capacities and requirements. WHO’s forthcoming Review of health system strategies (2013) in the Region will also identify these data systems as key areas for further support.

“We recognize these systems are essential to the emerging post-2015 development agenda,” concluded Dr Shin. “Experts are calling for a data revolution that would enable us to reach the neediest and ensure that no group is left behind.”


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