Ending millions of preventable deaths through equitable, data-driven health systems in communities around the world

Leveraging data to unlock health for all

In recent years, countries have achieved important progress on health, but most are still far behind where they need to be to meet the ambitious targets that global leaders agreed to in the Sustainable Development Goals. More than half of the world’s people do not receive all of the essential health services they need, and efforts to improve health often focus narrowly on providing medical care, overlooking larger social and economic factors.

Maternal and child survival are hallmarks of healthy communities. Yet today, far too many women die from preventable pregnancy-related conditions, and even more children die from common preventable illnesses such as diarrhea and pneumonia. Without substantial changes in the near future, global progress toward Sustainable Development Goal 3 – to ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages – will continue to be slow and inequitable.

The global health divide is exacerbated by a divide in data-informed decision making, caused by inequities across a myriad of factors – social, structural, and systemic. Although major advances in digital technology and data science are catalyzing health intervention efficiency and effectiveness, these innovations are not reaching the places where they could drive the greatest progress: the poorest and most vulnerable communities. The data equity gap, and by extension the health equity gap, will continue to widen unless deliberate, concerted, and coordinated efforts are made to close it.

At The Rockefeller Foundation, we envision a world where health systems everywhere are equipped to apply data-driven insights to deliver the right health interventions to the right communities at the right time.

We know that predictive analytics can identify communities at high risk for maternal and newborn deaths, so that preventive interventions can be more precisely targeted to prevent deaths, disability, and serious illnesses. It is important that these interventions be informed by data about the social determinants of health – for example, income, education level, living conditions, and access to roads and transportation. These types of data can help direct resources to where they are needed most.

Together, we can leverage data’s full potential to not only improve health outcomes, but also to prevent disease, illness, and pandemics before they occur.

The Precision Public Health Initiative

The Rockefeller Foundation has been working to improve global health for more than a century – from eradicating hookworm in the American South, to launching the field of public health, to seeding the development of the life-saving yellow fever vaccine. Now we are undertaking a new global effort – the Precision Public Health Initiative – to drive better health outcomes for all people, everywhere, through the intentional, equitable application of data science.

We aim to empower community health systems and frontline health workers with the latest data science innovations, including more accurate and precise decision-making tools based on large, integrated datasets, predictive analytics, artificial intelligence, and machine learning. Our work will build upon a number of similar efforts on a smaller scale that have already shown encouraging results.

The initiative focuses on achieving health for all and reaching SDG 3 targets. Experts estimate that failing to achieve SDG 3 would risk the lives of nearly 12 million mothers and children around the world. Of these, 6 million reside in countries we plan to work with, and could be saved between now and 2030.

We know that The Rockefeller Foundation cannot achieve this goal alone. Even philanthropy as a whole, no matter how generous, will not be able to accomplish it. Lasting change will rely on partnerships forged closely across global diverse partners. A key part of the Precision Public Health Initiative is enabling countries to tap into a global alliance of experts working on data science for community health, including technology partners who are committed to openly sharing information, datasets, expertise, and other resources.

Will you join us?

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