Data analysis and monitoring

Globally, health monitoring systems are in various stages of development. Some countries have little routinely collected health data of any kind. Others have routine health information systems, but do not monitor health inequities. Still other countries measure health inequities routinely, but lack data on the determinants of health inequities so that entry-points for policies cannot be detected. Countries with the worst health problems, including countries in conflict, have the worst data.

Incorporating routine information on equity-related aspects of population health and social determinants into a national health surveillance system can act not only as a mechanism to inform pro-equity health policy development and measure its success, but also as a tool to support cross-sectoral action on the social determinants of health. Such action will also be more effective if basic data systems are in place and there are mechanisms to ensure that the data can be understood and applied. These processes are essential for knowing the magnitude of the problem, for understanding who is most affected and whether the situation is improving or deteriorating over time, and for assessing entry-points for intervention and evaluating the impact of policies.