New memorandum of understanding between WHO and IHME brings better data and evidence for more informed decision-making for health


At the Seventy-first World Health Assembly in May 2018, WHO and the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) signed a new memorandum of understanding (MoU) and agreed to strengthen collaboration on the global burden of disease (GBD) and enhance policy use of GBD findings.

This new MoU represents a significant milestone and increases the visibility of the burden of disease for policy-makers. It will result in increased awareness and improved understanding of health challenges globally, and will bring better data and evidence for better decision-making for health.

WHO and IHME agreed to collaborate on certain activities related to the improvement of the quality and use of global health estimates. These include global, regional, national or subnational estimates for health indicators, such as estimates of total and cause-specific mortality, incidence and prevalence of diseases and injuries, and burden of disease and health determinants such as exposure to risk factors or intervention coverage.

The goal of the WHO–IHME collaboration on the production of the GBD is to improve the timeliness, policy relevance and validity of the GBD for national and local decision-making. Through this collaboration, WHO will make full use of the GBD data and analyses and publish summary GBD estimates in WHO policy documents, where appropriate.

WHO and IHME will also collaborate to strengthen country capacities to review, assess and improve national health data systems, analysis and reporting. In collaboration with IHME, WHO will help countries identify data gaps and possible strategies to fill them. Supported by IHME, WHO will equip policy-makers with superior tools for decision-making and guide policy dialogues.

WHO and IHME have agreed to share data, metadata and analytical methods with each other, and to encourage public sharing of data by Member States through WHO databases and the Global Health Data Exchange (GHDx).

The new MoU supports the WHO General Programme of Work 2019–2023, which states that the WHO Secretariat will, among other actions, “work with relevant institutions … in the collection, analysis and strategic use of health information. Examples … include … the Global Burden of Disease Collaboration, led by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.”

On Twitter, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director General, wrote, “Delighted to sign the memorandum of understanding WHO – @IHME_UW. The world needs better #HealthData, together we will deliver.”

European Burden of Disease Network

The MoU endorses the European Burden of Disease Network manifesto, in which Network members requested that WHO ensure a close collaboration with Member States and IHME on burden of disease. The MoU will directly benefit the members of the Network. In particular, it supports the production of a burden of disease manual that is currently being developed through a collaboration between WHO/Europe and IHME and taken forward by Professor Chris Murray, Director of IHME. The manual will be discussed at the next European Burden of Disease Network meeting in Berlin, Germany, in August 2018, with a view towards its endorsement globally in the context of the new MoU.