$100 Million For Global Health Information Infrastructure

By Sophie Blackshaw
Wednesday, 25 March, 2015

Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Australian Government have joined forces for a new paradigm for aid programs.
Bloomberg Philanthropies is putting $100 million into Health Information Infrastructure, with $10 million of the grant already going toward the University of Melbourne to provide the principal technical guidance in establishing the Data for Health initiative.
The intersection of private enterprise and government funding is something which universities are uniquely placed to support given the interdisciplinary scope required to undertake programs of this scale in developing nations.
Working in conjunction with the Australian government’s newly launched innovationXchange and the program partners, the University of Melbourne will lead the work on birth and death data systems.
The University’s breadth of research capabilities and partnerships with affiliates will help deliver expertise to strengthen key epidemiological datasets critical for public policy. Alan Lopez, Laureate Professor at the School of Population and Global Health, University of Melbourne, will lead a team of experts in collecting and evaluating birth and death data in developing countries, with the goal of establishing a comprehensive ‘roadmap’ to better monitor global health outcomes.
The initiative aims to improve health data in developing countries by using new communications technologies to help countries improve basic birth and death data and to monitor major risk factors.
His expertise and networks in this area were established over his research career and over 20 years experience at the World Health Organisation (WHO).
“Once priority health issues and challenges are identified based on the broad and comparative understanding that these data can offer, the most effective policies and programs can be developed,” Professor Lopez said.
“Impartial, reliable and timely evidence is a critical step towards informing policymakers and others involved with improving health systems to deliver better population health outcomes."
Each year, millions of people around the world die from preventable causes such as diabetes, chronic lung disease, cancers, heart disease and injuries. Worldwide, more than 65 per cent of deaths go undocumented, making it difficult for countries to make well-informed decisions around health funding priorities.
The Data for Health initiative will provide countries with tools to better collect and use health-related data, enabling them to shape public health policies and measure the success of programs.
“As developed nations aspire to personalised medicine, it is incumbent upon us to transfer the expertise that exists in universities and professional networks to developing nations to support the design of effective healthcare systems,” Dean of the Faculty of Medicine Dentistry and Health Sciences Professor Stephen Smith said.
“Alan’s networks, research and breadth of experiences with the WHO provide outstanding leadership in this field.”
“As a global institution, this program is well aligned with our commitment to play our part in contributing to solving major global issues. In this effective program, we can bring together research and engagement that will inform global health policy,” University of Melbourne Vice Chancellor Glyn Davis said.
The University welcomes the opportunity to provide the technical leadership of such a significant initiative to underpin the targeting of limited global resources and save lives.

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