UW News

September 27, 2007

Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation sets priorities

UW Health Sciences/UW Medicine

The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the UW, announced in June, will conduct independent, rigorous evaluations of health programs worldwide. Funded by a $105 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and $20 million from the UW, the institute will help guide international policymaking by providing high-quality data and analysis on health needs and outcomes, and assessing the performance of health programs.

In a recent interview, Dr. Christopher Murray, director of the new institute and a professor in the UW School of Medicine’s Department of Global Health, described top priorities for the institute, which are focused in five program areas: health outcomes, health services, resource inputs, cross-cutting themes and evaluations.

On Health Outcomes:

“We have quite a lot of work on health outcomes, so our first study from the institute is a study on what’s happened to child mortality in 172 countries each year since 1970 and what have we learned from that. (See accompanying article.) And we will have a similar analysis on adult mortality. Our Global Burden of Disease 2005 project is a big consortium project that involves several hundred collaborators around the world that we’re organizing. The main kickoff meeting for that was here in September.”

On Health Services:

“Which interventions — drugs, surgeries, anything we do — are getting to people who need them? What fraction of children are immunized? What fraction of diabetics are being treated appropriately? What fraction of people who need anti-retroviral medications for HIV are getting them?”

On Resource Inputs:

“These are the dollars and, ultimately, human resources going into health care. Next year we’ll produce the first of a regular assessment of the dollars going from the north to the south in global health. There are lots of statements in the media about $60 billion for this and for that — what we want to do is figure out exactly how much money is being spent because often there’s a bit of a difference between commitments and actual expenditures.”

On Cross-Cutting Themes:

“This fourth area is a set of topics that cut across the inputs, outputs and outcomes aspects, and those are forecasting of health and health inputs, measurement of disparities in different countries, and research on how we collect data more efficiently — lower cost, higher-quality data.”

On Evaluations:

“This includes evaluations of global strategies and initiatives, evaluations of national medical care and public health systems, and evaluations of selected reforms that people may ask us about. We plan to evaluate two to three global initiatives and strategies, and we’re trying to find out what those will be. We will pick a policy or an initiative and determine what was spent and what was achieved.”

Murray said plans also are under way to launch a track in the master’s of public health program in metrics and evaluation this year, and to eventually create a doctoral program in that same area. In addition, the institute will create a global data bank containing as much data on health around the world as possible — data Murray said will be made available to the research community and the public.