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World health, by the quite interesting numbers


Are you a stats nerd, or just someone interested in health around the world?

Either way, surfing the vast ocean of global health data can be illuminating — or infuriating. For instance, an encouraging stat is the recent gains in sanitation services worldwide, in which 1.4 billion people have access to improved toilets. But a discouraging stat shows that 40 percent of children younger than 5 with suspected pneumonia aren’t seen by health providers.

Those numbers, and many more, are collected by the World Health Organization’s Global Health Observatory, and cover just about everything including antimicrobial resistance and violence. It’s a massive online portal to all of the United Nations agency’s facts and figures on global public health.

You don’t have to be a data expert to use the site.

It lets you look up statistics on a country-by-country level or by region, through searches, or by checking out a list of topics, such as individual diseases, essential medications and health financing.

One of the GHO’s most insightful tools is its Health Equity Monitor, an interactive graph that showcases inequalities across and between countries for different maternal, newborn and child health interventions.

For example, you can use the tool to show differences between how women’s family planning needs are met at various educational levels. Thirty-seven percent of women with no education have their family planning needs met through modern methods, while 53 percent of women with a secondary education do.

The data is great for research, but it’s just plain interesting reading. So don’t be surprised if you find yourself oohing and aahing over surprising stats about sexually transmitted diseases or road safety — or thinking more deeply about your health and your counterparts around the world.

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