September 2007

An Initiative Towards Affordable Surveillance

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Recognising that good information is essential to every aspect of public health planning – from outbreak response, to identification of priorities, and evaluation of programs – the United Nations Foundation and The Vodafone Group Foundation launched a health data surveillance programme in 2006

Up-to-date, accurate data is a necessity for public health, and providing that data requires affordable information technology. That's the premise behind a joint project of the United Nations Foundation and The Vodafone Group Foundation to support digital health data systems in developing countries. Through a partnership with the UN World Health Organization and DataDyne.org, a non-governmental organization, the foundations have launched a programme that empowers developing country public health professionals to use sustainable technologies to save lives.  The programme strives to make quality health data as accessible as the mobile phone by putting effective health data-gathering tools in the hands (literally) of health workers on the ground.

Most information about public health in developing countries is collected on paper, usually by means of house-to-house surveys. The process of collecting and then entering this information into computers, so that it can be aggregated and analyzed can take months or even years. The same data-entry process can also introduce errors.

Recognising that good information is essential to every aspect of public health planning

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