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Table of Contents   
EDITORIAL COMMENTARY  
Year : 2017  |  Volume : 10  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 793-794
New guidelines released to ensure transparency and enhance credibility of the reported health estimates: World Health Organization


Department of Community Medicine, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, Ammapettai, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India

Click here for correspondence address and email

Date of Web Publication5-Oct-2017
 

How to cite this article:
Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS, Ramasamy J. New guidelines released to ensure transparency and enhance credibility of the reported health estimates: World Health Organization. Ann Trop Med Public Health 2017;10:793-4

How to cite this URL:
Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS, Ramasamy J. New guidelines released to ensure transparency and enhance credibility of the reported health estimates: World Health Organization. Ann Trop Med Public Health [serial online] 2017 [cited 2019 Sep 17];10:793-4. Available from: http://www.atmph.org/text.asp?2017/10/4/793/196502
There is an immense need for data pertaining to population health indicators at global, regional, national, and local levels to monitor health status and assist policy makers in prioritizing health issues, implementing measures to minimize sufferings or deaths, and judiciously allocating resources.[1] However, it is a bitter fact that health data are not available for all population groups or for different health indicators or for each year, and even if it is available, possibility of discrepancies while recording them can never be ruled out, which gives a precise indication of being not comparable over time or across different settings/population.[1],[2] This problem was clearly evident in the World Health Statistics 2016 report, which covered 35 health indicators; nevertheless, the estimates for some of the indicators was missing in 25-60% of the world's nation.[2]

Acknowledging the reality that wide gaps and challenges are present in measuring the data, with many nations being devoid of resources and infrastructure, mathematical models have been developed to support the incomplete data and thus obtain estimates of caseload or other health indicators.[1],[2],[3] Further, these obtained estimates are then utilized by the stakeholders or the funding agencies to derive an inference about a health problem or to compare among different population groups or to monitor their progress over a period of time.[2],[4] However, these mathematical models are quite complex, not universally standardized, and can even raise concerns among the stakeholders (because of not sharing the details on how these estimates have been obtained) that whether the estimates are due to a real epidemiological reason or due to the adoption of a newer method.[1],[2],[3],[4] In addition, objections have even been raised about the efficacy of the estimates due to cloudiness in the method adopted for the data search, access, and inclusion process.[2],[5]

There is no doubt that the health and well-being of millions of people are at stake, and by ensuring the availability of a reliable and complete information, the policy makers are offered the best possible chance to take an informed decision.[1],[2] Thus, the World Health Organization (WHO) in collaboration with different other stakeholders has formulated and released a set of the 18 minimum essential documentation, which have to be reported every time a new health estimates are released, under the Guidelines for Accurate and Transparent Health Estimates Reporting (GATHER).[1],[2],[5] These checklist items are broadly categorized under four sections, namely objectives and funding, data inputs, data analysis, and results and discussion, and are developed in such a way that they will cater to the needs of a broad range of people, and will provide an insight into the method for data input and any limitations of data.[1],[2],[5]

It has been identified as a crucial step to ensure that health estimates can be scrutinized either by disclosing particulars about all data that were used to obtain the estimates or by sharing of the computer codes, so that the estimates can be reproduced by others.[4] In other words, GATHER will bring transparency in the procedure of health estimates and will be of great assistance to researchers for judiciously investing the available funds, as they no longer have to waste their time and money in reproducing the already available estimate but can just build on the work done by others.[1],[5]

Further, it will even enhance the credibility of the results of the previous investigators, as they are openly willing to share their adopted methods, and will take research activities to a higher level.[4],[5] In fact, the WHO is already following the guidelines and most of the estimates pertaining to mother and child mortality are released keeping the best practices in mind.[5]

To conclude, the demand for the health estimates has increased enormously in recent years, owing to the need to measure health indicators and hence assess the progress toward proposed health targets. The new guidelines appear to be an extremely useful tool to improve the transparency and credibility of the health estimates and hence extensively assist the program managers.

Acknowledgements

SRS contributed in the conception or design of the work, drafting of the work, approval of the final version of the manuscript, and agreed for all aspects of the work.

PSS contributed in the literature review, revision of the manuscript for important intellectual content, approval of the final version of the manuscript, and agreed for all aspects of the work.

JR contributed in revising the draft, approval of the final version of the manuscript, and agreed for all aspects of the work.

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.



 
   References Top

1.
Boerma T, Mathers CD. The World Health Organization and global health estimates: improving collaboration and capacity. BMC Med 2015;13:50.  Back to cited text no. 1
    
2.
Stevens GA, Hogan DR, Boerma T. Improving reporting of health estimates. Bull World Health Organ 2016;94:483.  Back to cited text no. 2
    
3.
Rudan I, Campbell H, Marušić A, Sridhar D, Nair H, Adeloye D. et al. Assembling GHERG: could “academic crowd-sourcing” address gaps in global health estimates? J Glob Health 2015;5:010101.  Back to cited text no. 3
    
4.
Carr D, Littler K. Sharing research data to improve public health: A funder perspective. J Empir Res Hum Res Ethics2015;10:314-6.  Back to cited text no. 4
    
5.
World Health OrganizationNew checklist to make health estimates more transparent, accurate and reliable; 2016. Available from: http://who.int/features/2016/gather-health-estimates/en/. [Last accessed on 2016 June 30].  Back to cited text no. 5
    

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Correspondence Address:
Saurabh R Shrivastava
3rd Floor, Department of Community Medicine, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, Ammapettai Village, Thiruporur, Guduvancherry Main Road, Sembakkam Post, Kancheepuram, Tamil Nadu
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/1755-6783.196502

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