New web resource supports country improvement of critical health data

The CRVS (civil registration and vital statistics) Knowledge Gateway (www.crvsgateway.info) developed by the University of Melbourne, provides technical tools and information that countries can use to improve birth and death data, with the ultimate goal to support their citizens to live longer, healthier lives.

One of the biggest contributors to preventable deaths is a record-keeping problem - and it is one that can be solved. Currently, less than half of all deaths (around 30 million each year) go unrecorded globally, and half of those do not have a documented cause.

But knowing what people are dying from and why allows for targeted health spending that can stem the rise of preventable non-communicable diseases and is a key to achieving many of the Sustainable Development Goals.

A new web resource developed through the Data for Health Initiative has been created as a one-stop-shop to help countries combat this health data problem. The CRVS (civil registration and vital statistics) Knowledge Gateway (www.crvsgateway.info) provides technical tools and information that countries can use to improve birth and death data, with the ultimate goal to support their citizens to live longer, healthier lives. This resource, aimed at people working in health, information systems and government in low- and middle-income countries, fills a vital gap in global health with access to a digital tome of evidence-based information and country experiences that are offered for free in an approachable and user-friendly way.

Above left to right and top to bottom: An animation illustrates the importance of vital statistics; a self-guided module in the Learning Centre; a user-friendly resource for policy-makers; a video of CRVS work in Brazil.

The web resource was developed at the University of Melbourne as part of the Bloomberg Philanthropies Data for Health Initiative and written by global technical experts in birth and death information systems.

Sections of the CRVS Knowledge Gateway include:

  • Learning Centre- a searchable consolidation of the most progressive techniques and knowledge in CRVS acceleration. Using a free account, users can save their favourite pages, keep track of recently viewed pages on the website, and check their knowledge as they move through the topics.
  • Library- details country experiences of CRVS improvement; distills CRVS challenges and solutions for policymakers; and explains new tools, methods, and findings in the CRVS sector.
  • Community Hub- contains videos and photos of work in the field, newsletters and links to social media
  • Country pages- share how Data for Health countries are working to improve their health data
  • Courses- a catalogue of face-to-face courses available through the initiative.

Bloomberg Philanthropies Director of Public Health Programs Dr Kelly Henning said that the new web resource will enable administrations to implement interventions that will increase their capacity to deliver vital services.

“The CRVS Knowledge Gateway is an important resource for solving one of the most critical health problems of our time: lack of data on what causes death. The Gateway provides resources that support all countries in improving their health data,” said Dr Henning.

The Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) co-fund the Data for Health Initiative with Bloomberg Philanthropies. Blair Exell, Australian Ambassador for Regional Health Security and First Assistant Secretary at DFAT said:

“Data plays a critical role in understanding the health challenges that a country faces. The CRVS Knowledge Gateway is an important resource which will help share tools and techniques to change the way health data is collected, and improve people’s lives.”

University of Melbourne Laureate Professor Alan Lopez, who is the Technical Director of the CRVS arm of the Data for Health Initiative said:

“Globally, there is a need to continually improve the quality and completeness of health information. The CRVS Knowledge Gateway is designed to serve as a resource for countries to form a strong foundation for better data that can withstand the changing seasons of any government and allow decision-makers to utilise their improved information to better the lives of their people.”

Brazilian Technical Advisor for the Initiative Dr Fatima Marinho said the Gateway will build confidence in countries’ ability to improve their information systems.

“The Data for Health Initiative has given us the opportunity to connect with other countries and institutions to improve our knowledge, our skills, and our beliefs in what sort of advances are possible for countries – and the new CRVS Knowledge Gateway allows for that information to be spread even further.

“It’s not just about building better data – it’s about it’s about building a better world in the process,” said Dr Marinho.

Data for Health is a global initiative that partners with 20 low and middle-income countries to dramatically improve health data - including improving understanding about the leading causes of premature death - in order to reduce preventable deaths.

The work by the University of Melbourne on the Bloomberg Philanthropies Data for Health Initiative is funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Australian Government’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Follow advancements of the Bloomberg Philanthropies Data for Health Initiative on Twitter at @BloombergDotOrg and @UniMelbD4H