Online Program

Does Data Protect Health? Reflections from District-Level Assessments in Kerala

Monday, November 2, 2015 : 2:50 p.m. - 3:05 p.m.

Devaki Nambiar, PhD, Public Health Foundation of India, Gurgaon, India
Kerala has been a state to watch in the context of health equity, whether in the popularisation of the “Kerala model” for health in the 1980s, the identification of various “outliers” of this model in the decades following, or the introduction of programmes and reforms to bridge equity gaps in health and its antecedents in the 2000s.

Late 2014 saw the launch of Kerala’s Public Health Protection Agency, spearheaded by the Department of Health, involving Departments of Social Justice, Social Security, Water/ Sanitation, Rural and Urban Development, as well as Planning and Local Self Government Institutions. This was a unique, not uncontroversial effort to address the challenges of convergence for health equity and its social determinants, which we supported through an 8 month long baseline mapping exercise in two districts of the state. We analysed secondary data on 168 schemes and programmes from over two dozen different departments, triangulating this with in-person consultations at state and district levels.

We found stark linkages in data (on water and sanitation and communicable disease prevalence) as well as gaping lacunae (on data from the private sector, both within health and related to health harming industries). Vulnerable populations prioritised by social sector programmes (like the elderly, and indigenous persons) continued to have the poorest health and development outcomes, suggesting a troublingly iniquitous form of “dispossession by welfare.” Given the larger political scenario, the time is ripe to both advocate not just for more or better data, but its meaningful use to improve population health.

Learning Areas:

Administer health education strategies, interventions and programs
Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs
Program planning
Protection of the public in relation to communicable diseases including prevention or control
Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Describe findings from district level analyses of indicators relevant to health equity in all policies in India Demonstrate the limitations of data for action on health equity

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I was a member of the team that carried out this work, have done the bulk of analysis and writing related to this project.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.