Monday, January 5, 2015

Visualizing Global Health

Global health issues have received increased attention due to the Ebola outbreak, with President Obama recently asking Congress for $6 billion in the fight against the crisis. While the Ebola outbreak is serious and has resulted in thousands of deaths, a number of other diseases, such as HIV/AIDS and Tuberculosis, continue to plague countries throughout the world. Other health issues, including infant mortality, a shortage of doctors and nurses, and a lack of healthcare spending also play critical roles in shaping population health throughout the world. As researchers and policymakers continue to grapple with these issues, it is becoming increasingly important that relevant data and tools are easily accessible that can help shed light on these issues. One such tool is the World Health Mapper, a free web-based mapping and data visualization tool.

The World Health Mapper ( allows users to visualize data related to demographics, vital statistics, child and infant health, disease prevalence, and healthcare capacity & expenditures for countries across the world in the form of maps, charts, and graphs. Users also have the ability to examine the relationship between two indicators with side-by-side maps and a comparison tool that groups countries based on percentiles.

For example, the map shows the relationship between health care spending per capita and infant mortality, where red countries have high spending (70th percentile or greater) & low infant mortality (30 percentile or below), and light blue countries have low spending (30th percentile or below) and high infant mortality (70 percentile or greater).

The data come from a variety of sources, most notably the World Development Indicators Catalog produced by the World Bank and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Health Database.  In addition, the World Health Mapper contains data about the state of Family Medicine around the globe. 

The World Health Mapper is also available at the Center for Global Health Initiatives and the Robert Graham Center.

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