Global health is improving, so is global health information

Yesterday we released World Health Statistics 2017: Monitoring health for the SDGs. This WHO flagship publication compiles data from the organization’s 194 Member States on 21 health-related SDG targets, providing a snapshot of both gains and threats to the health of the world’s people. While the quality of health data has improved significantly in recent years, many countries still do not routinely collect high-quality data to monitor health-related SDG indicators.

However, there have been improvements in data collection. We highlight that now almost half of all deaths globally are now recorded with a cause. Of the estimated 56 million deaths globally in 2015, 27 million were registered with a cause of death, according to WHO’s annual World Health Statistics. In 2005, only about a third of deaths had a recorded cause. Several countries have made significant strides towards strengthening the data they collect, including China, Turkey and the Islamic Republic of Iran, where 90% of deaths are now recorded with detailed cause-of-death information, compared with 5% in 1999.














As reported last year, overall global health is improving. Average life expectancy at birth has increased by five years globally, and more than 9 years in Africa. This year we report that premature mortality from the four main non-communicable diseases (cardiovascular diseases, cancer, diabetes and chronic respiratory diseases) has declined by 17% since the year 2000.  This is driven mainly by improvements in cardiovascular disease mortality in high income countries, and chronic respiratory disease mortality in low and middle income countries. Cancer mortality is also declining, but more slowly.

The report also includes new data on progress towards universal health coverage. Those data show that globally, ten measures of essential health service coverage have improved since 2000. Coverage of treatment for HIV and bed nets to prevent malaria have increased the most, from very low levels in 2000. Steady increases have also been seen in access to antenatal care and improved sanitation, while gains in routine child immunization coverage from 2000 to 2010 slowed somewhat between 2010 and 2015.

Access to services is just one dimension of universal health coverage; how much people pay out of their own pockets for those services is the other. The most recent data from 117 countries show that an average of 9.3% of people in each country spend more than 10% of their household budget on health care, a level of spending that is likely to expose a household to financial hardship.

A selection of additional results are also available in the press release. This is the 12th edition of World Health Statistics, which has been published annually since 2005.

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