Public health policymaking and planning are core government functions. Sound health policy requires rigorous and objective analysis of data that weighs alternative strategies and generates usable information to guide policy decisions. Examples of such policy-relevant analyses include epidemiologic determination of leading causes of death and disability, health impact assessments, and cost-effectiveness analyses.
It is frequently the case that available data are not used effectively to support decision-making, because financial and human resources to collect or generate evidence are limited by within-government competition for scarce resources; evidence highlight problems or support decisions that contradict the priorities of interest group or political preferences; evidence is not always relevant to address the problems that policymakers are facing; evidence is not always easy for policymakers to understand and use; and evidence is not always valued as an information input, for reasons such as skepticism about quality and validity. As a result, analyses that are conducted are often left to ‘fly in the wind’ without gaining policy traction.
Public health intelligence units provide an opportunity to bridge this gap between data and policy. Units that bring together methodological expertise applicable to a wide variety of disease topics, such as policy-relevant analytic methods, data management and quality assurance, and knowledge translation strategies, provide an efficient way to bring together data analysis with data use and policy-making.
We support governments to establish centralized public health intelligence units. Activities include defining staff functions, capacity building of relevant staff, refining SOPs and drafting procedures. We also provide technical assistance in data analysis, dissemination and communication.
Government public health intelligence units: bridging the data to policy gap