Global Health Now: Data-Driven Done Right
July 27, 2017
JEFFREY D. FREEMAN
Much of Madagascar’s Ifanadiana District is passable only by foot, electricity is nearly nonexistent, and basic health and human services are almost entirely absent—posing a variety of complex and persistent health challenges. In low-resource settings like this, a data-driven approach to strengthening health systems can prove especially valuable, as PIVOT, a medical NGO, demonstrated in this region.
More data is not necessarily better, but given the growing emphasis on data within global health and development, finding ways to use it more effectively is essential—and PIVOT’s data-driven approach could help inform and improve other efforts. We came to know the work of PIVOT as part of a collaborative effort, including researchers from Johns Hopkins, Stanford, UCLA, and Virginia Tech, all working together to improve tuberculosis diagnostics for low resource settings. As we quickly learned, PIVOT’s data-driven approach proved very conducive to conducting research with an NGO partner, particularly in an austere setting.
Prior to PIVOT’s engagement in the district, studies reported a 1 in 6 mortality rate in children under-5 years, and a lifetime maternal mortality rate of 1 in 14, both of which are among the highest mortality rates in the world. PIVOT began working in Ifanadiana in 2014 with the goal of delivering health care to the rural poor in Madagascar, and the hope of serving as a model for the rest of the country.