Data and digital health

Strong information systems drive results for children.

A mother displays her child's birth certificate while holding her child in a hospital in Uganda.
UNICEF/UNI149910/Sibiloni

Accurate data and strong information systems are critical to advancements in public health.

Timely, high-quality data uncover inequities in health outcomes and enable decision makers to identify children’s unmet needs. Strong information systems also help policymakers know how and where to invest in health facilities, personnel, vaccines and other supplies.

Yet, in many places – especially low-income countries and humanitarian settings – accurate data are hard to come by. Even when reliable data are available, decision makers are not always able to use them – preventing them from tracking progress on existing programmes and policies. As a result, the children most in need are often left behind.

UNICEF’s work to turn data into action

Strong information systems drive action for children.

To accelerate progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals, UNICEF helps countries enhance the availability, quality and use of data. We support evidence-based programmes for maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health by strengthening systems for national health management and information, civil registration and vital statistics.

We also provide guidance to leverage innovative and emerging technologies – like those related to Geographic Information Systems, new diagnostics and artificial intelligence – towards health goals.

Digital health

When health workers have access to digital solutions, they are better equipped to track patients’ progress and monitor sustained treatment. Pregnancy registration, vaccine management and other tasks become less cumbersome, and health workers are better able to deliver high-quality care and respond to emergencies like disease outbreaks.

UNICEF is a global leader in digital health interventions, which use information and communication technologies to achieve health goals.

UNICEF and partners leverage digital health technologies to strengthen health systems and enhance the reach and quality of care. UNICEF has also developed an open source software, RapidPro, to support efforts to connect women and children with the health system.

Improving information and data use

UNICEF helps build the capacity of local practitioners to analyze and use data, including through dashboards and other analytical tools. We also enhance the quality of data, and – in coordination with partners – develop standards and guidelines that improve birth and death registration.

To help promote primary health care in communities, UNICEF also makes available a core set of indicators for monitoring and evaluating health outcomes.

Geographic Information Systems

Geographic Information Systems (GIS) combine geospatial data and technologies to strengthen health systems. The increasing availability of geospatial information and data collection tools has sparked global interest in the use of GIS technology for health programmes.

UNICEF supports the integration of GIS in country health data systems. This initiative focuses on developing global guidance, developing GIS tools and "global good" data sets, and conducting in-country GIS capacity-building. For example, in collaboration with the Global Alliance for Vaccines, UNICEF helps countries use GIS to strengthen immunization services.

Resources

UNICEF’s Approach to Digital Health

Learn how UNICEF harnesses the power of information and communication technologies to help countries ensure that every child survives and thrives.


RapidPro: UNICEF’s Open-Source Software to Power Mobile-Based Services

Explore how UNICEF and partners use this digital tool in health programming and beyond.


Designing Digital Interventions for Lasting Impact 

This UNICEF resource serves as a human-centred guide to digital health deployments.


World Health Organization's Resources for Health Management Information Systems

Explore WHO resources that help optimize the use and analysis of data collected through routine health facility information systems.


Guidance on the Use of Geospatial Data and Technologies in Immunization Programmes

This resource shows decision makers and planners how to integrate geospatial data and technologies in national health programming.


Improving Vaccination Coverage and Reducing Inequities: Use of GIS in Immunization Programmes

This report presents findings from a 2016 global workshop on the use of Geographic Information Systems for immunization programmes.


AccessMod

Explore this tool from the World Health Organization that supports universal health coverage by modelling physical accessibility to health care.


USAID Spatial Data Repository

This resource provides a standard set of spatially modeled map surfaces for population-based survey.


The Use of Geospatial Data and Technologies in Support of Immunization Microplanning in Myanmar Implementation Report, 2017–2018

This report records UNICEF’s work supporting Myanmar in the use of geospatial data and technologies to improve planning and monitoring for the equitable provision of immunization services.