Atlas of African Health Statistics 2016 - Health situation analysis of the African Region

Publication Overview

The 2016 edition of the Atlas of African Health Statistics provides an up-to-date health situation analysis of the WHO African Region. It has been updated and its coverage expanded with new indicators, including nearly half of the 2015 Global reference list of 100 core health indicators recommended by the United Nations Interagency Working Group on Indicators and Reporting Burden, and a section on progress on the targets of the health and health-related Millennium Development Goals.

For its contents, the Atlas is primarily reliant on the data collected, cleaned, corrected, evaluated and assessed at country level in each of the 47 Member States of the WHO African Region. These data are further reviewed and refined by WHO country offices, the Regional Office in Brazzaville and by technical experts at WHO headquarters in Geneva. The results of this process are data computed by WHO to ensure comparability between countries. These may not necessarily correspond to the official statistics published by Member States, which may have been produced using valid alternative methods.

The Atlas also uses data from other sources, including United Nations sister agencies. The estimates used to monitor internationally agreed goals such as the MDGs, for example, are produced by inter-agency groups consisting of members from WHO, UNICEF and the World Bank, among others. When a figure in the Atlas is not based on WHO data, the source is credited in a footnote.

The quality, quantity, frequency of collection and timeliness of data used to produce the Atlas depends very much on the strength of the national health information systems, which include data collection at the district and peripheral levels. With some notable exceptions, this has been an area of weakness within most national health systems, whose development in the African Region has been slow and uneven, despite considerable effort over the years.

To overcome these weaknesses, WHO seeks to support countries in strengthening their national health information systems through the development of national knowledge platforms, which include health observatories. These platforms, with direct links to subnational or district levels, could also be linked to the Regional Office in a collaborative, bidirectional exchange of information, evidence and knowledge to foster monitoring and evaluation, which are essential components of the cycle of development and policy work. They would also be used to implement the assessment frameworks that will be put in place to evaluate the impact of the Sustainable Development Goals and progress towards Universal Health Coverage. It is hoped that these developments will lead to a decrease in the fragmentation of efforts so frequently found in public health policy and development work.