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Tackling inequality in global health: Why we must break down health data by ethnicity


Tackling inequality briefing web.pdf-page-001

The current Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the data collection practices behind them are hiding the true health outcomes of millions of people. Progress in the current goals is measured against national averages, masking inequalities and obscuring the realities of the poorest and most vulnerable.

Proposals for a new set of goals to replace the MDGs when they expire in 2015 talk about a “data revolution,” but for this to happen the indicators set to measure progress must be broken down by ethnic and cultural group, revealing the root causes of poverty and inequality for each group and allowing for more focused and effective development policy.

As the international community discusses this new framework Health Poverty Action has released a new briefing; Tackling inequality in global health: Why we must break down health data ethnicity. In it we call for:

  • The disaggregation of data by ethnicity in the indicators set to measure progress in the post-2015 development framework.
  • Investment in national level statistical capacity building to make this a reality.
  • The framework to include a standalone goal on inequality and goals to address the root causes of inequality, such as enabling progressive tax regimes and providing free healthcare to all.

Breaking down data by ethnicity will ensure support can be targeted to the communities who need it most, and help prevent needless deaths.

The new framework for international development represents an unparalleled opportunity to address inequality. We must take it.


This briefing is based on research found in the longer report entitled Every Mother Counts: Reporting Health Data by Ethnicity.


Our work in Namibia is supported by the UK government:Department for international development logo

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