Publication date: 
March 14, 2019

As a world leader promoting the health of children and mothers, UNICEF and its partners work to save the lives of millions of the world’s most vulnerable, in part by having hyper-local data at their fingertips. Recently, UNICEF and its partners started using maps from the Local Burden of Disease (LBD) project, an initiative led by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), in one of their flagship data dashboards, the Equitable Impact Sensitive Tool (EQUIST). The LBD initiative provides estimates of health outcomes and related measures at a very fine, local resolution.

EQUIST provides data that help less-developed countries improve the health of their poorest mothers and children. It helps decision-makers identify which populations are disadvantaged, why they are disadvantaged, and which combination of evidence-based interventions and health system strategies would produce the best results. Health policymakers, analysts, and program managers use EQUIST for national and subnational health planning to address issues of equity and improve maternal, newborn, and child health and nutrition. Recognizing that health needs and challenges vary widely within a country and across a population, EQUIST offers both national and subnational exercises and helps planners work toward the goal of equal impact of health interventions for all populations.

In 2018, achieving this goal got a little easier. After more than a year of collaboration, EQUIST now includes LBD maps that feature estimates for 5-by-5-kilometer areas in Africa. The estimates cover indicators including neonatal mortality, under-5 mortality, and under-5 stunting and wasting. With this local information, country health officials can now see beyond national and subnational trends and tailor health solutions to even more detailed locales instead of adopting a one-size-fits-all approach to solving health problems. LBD’s 5 × 5 km estimates of child mortality in Africa also provide a baseline against which local, national, and global stakeholders can map the pathways for meeting the Sustainable Development Goals and ending preventable child deaths by 2030.

Currently, EQUIST includes an image of LBD’s 5 x 5 km maps and a link to its visualization tools where users can get more detailed geospatial information and estimates over time. Future versions may incorporate more LBD mapping features directly into EQUIST.

At the country level, UNICEF has been working with governments around the world to adapt and apply EQUIST as an evidence-based and equity-focused planning tool to improve country strategies and plans to raise the coverage of high-impact maternal, newborn, and child health and nutrition interventions. 

IHME’s collaboration with UNICEF to integrate and use LBD maps in EQUIST can strengthen these efforts and realize the goal of precision public health: that public health solutions can – and must – be designed, delivered, and evaluated at the local level.

UNICEF’s Equitable Impact Sensitive Tool (EQUIST) features Local Burden of Disease maps, as seen here for Nigeria. LBD is an initiative led by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.