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Using Data to Analyze Progress in Reproductive Health

4 April, 2013
Using Data to Analyze Progress in Reproductive Health

With the target for achieving the Millennium Development Goals just 1,000 days away, considerable attention is focussing on target 5b: universal access to reproductive health.

This target, which was added in 2007, is the one that lags farthest behind. It is also a target whose achievement is pivotal to reaching UNFPA’s vision of a world in which every pregnancy is wanted, every childbirth safe, and every young person’s potential fulfilled.

As a way to track, analyze and understand progress in this area, UNFPA has developed MDG 5b+ Info, an online database that includes more than 20 indicators related to maternal and reproductive health, from contraceptive prevalence and skilled birth attendance to percentages of Caesarean section births and women making their own health care decisions.

Data – from validated household health surveys, censuses and other sources – is updated on a weekly basis to ensure that the most up-to-date information is presented, according to the UNFPA Senior Advisor for Monitoring and Evaluation, Edilberto Loaiza, who manages the database.

Built on the UN-endorsed DevInfo platform, the tool has been introduced in various UNFPA-organized training workshops across the globe. “It intended to help decision-makers identify coverage gaps and develop data-driven interventions to support wider access to reproductive health,” Mr. Loaiza said.

Beyond providing the latest reproductive health indicators, the tool can be used to generate maps, graphs and tables to communicate trends, progress and gaps that reflect, for example, disparities related to wealth, age, sex, education or geographic area.
 

“Visualization can be a powerful way to show how things change over time, or according to other variables,” Mr. Loaiza said. “In addition to being very useful in terms of making more nuanced decisions from a programming standpoint, such visuals can be helpful in advocacy.”