DepartmentInternational Development Studies
ProfessorAnne- Emanuelle Birn
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Q: For what purposes are health data collected?
A (p194-198): Health data are commonly used for a variety of purposes including health services
planning and legislation, gauging trends and needs, early determination of health problems and
outbreaks, and monitoring and complying with international health regulations.
Here are some uses of Statistical Health Data,
z Identify emerging problem
z Anticipate future needs
z Help determine priorities
z Estimate budgets
z For use by government in the public sphere
z Help direct progress toward goals
z For international sharing and comparison purposes
z Monitor progress/ setbacks by social groups
Q: what are the limitations of health data
A (p195,198): health data can not make decision on policies that affect health. It also can not give
causal explanation. Lastly, it is also difficult to determine which variables to include in data
collection and analysis.
Q: what are the major kinds of health-related data?
A: There are population data (census), vital statistics (birth registration), health statistics, health
services statistics, data on social inequalities.
Q: What are the challenges involved in collecting health data
z During the data collection process, some essential determinants of health may be
overlooked or willfully ignored.
z The same difficulties inherent in the collection, interpretation, and comparison of vital
statistics are evident to a far greater degree when data on health status are being considered.
z Since most infections go undetected, the overwhelming majority of infections never come
to medical attention. Thus, during data collection, these infections are ignored.
z Researchers often magnify the importance of the diseases they study, so they may not take
into account a clear, overall vision of the field and believe they have to deserve more funds
z The quality and completeness of morbidity records vary greatly, as does their accessibility.
z The data are collecting for different purpose among regional agencies, but in high degree of
coordination. The problem of international comparability may beset the researchers.
Q: Can health data address larger determinants of health?
A: Yes, health data can include social, political, economic, and biological factors. For example,
health data can address social determinant of health.
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