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Understanding Health Inequalities Through Better Measurement and Monitoring

Dontal hospital
Photo credit: Patrick de Noirmont

Over the past seven years, The Rockefeller Foundation has supported the goal of universal health coverage (UHC) and, as part of that initiative, we’ve proudly supported work on the monitoring and measurement of UHC. Monitoring and measurement is important for informed policy-making, accountability, health system strengthening, and learning. The Foundation has supported collaborative efforts—led by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Bank—to develop a framework for monitoring and measuring UHC with recommended measures for both financial protection and effective coverage with quality health services. In addition, the Foundation and the Government of Japan supported a special collection of PLoS Medicine on measurement and monitoring of UHC at country and global levels—including 13 country case studies and five technical reviews—which was published at the end of September.

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When it comes to monitoring, an equity lens and disaggregated data are essential to understanding where there are gaps in progress. We supported WHO’s Global Health Observatory Health Equity Monitor to develop a database to track country health indicators disaggregated across multiple social, demographic, economic, and geographical factors. As part of this work, a team from WHO developed a Handbook on Health Inequality Monitoring in low and middle-income countries. Two weeks ago, this handbook was recognized as “Highly Commended” in the Public Health category of the BMA 2014 Medical Book Awards.

Congratulations to WHO, and the community of researchers and practitioners who contributed to the PLoS special collection and the development of the Handbook on Health Inequality Monitoring. These two pieces of work are important to ensuring that we continue to focus on equity as we progress toward universal health coverage.

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