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World Health Day: One year with COVID-19 and the value of health data

The article was orginally posted on LinkedIn by Barry Sandison, AIHW CEO.

It’s been more than a year since the pandemic started, and COVID-19 continues to test world health systems. The novel nature of the virus, coupled with its rapid spread to pandemic proportions, presents healthcare leaders with a challenging and unprecedented task.

In the first few weeks of the outbreak, healthcare leaders and epidemiologists learnt about the virus and its treatment by sharing anecdotal observations and small clinical series. Fast forward to 2021 on #WorldHealthDay, and the increasing value of health data cannot be denied. Never before have we seen a greater need for robust data-sharing systems with accurate, real-time, patient-level data analysis.

In a world as globalised and interdependent as ours, all countries and sectors have been impacted – data included. Data are critical in understanding the evolving crisis and how to effectively manage it.

Here at the AIHW, a key duty and ongoing challenge is to contribute robust and timely data to support effective decision-making. Last year we released ‘Australia’s health 2020’, a report card which brings together data from multiple sources to provide a holistic picture of health in Australia. Explore the product suite:

We also examined some of the main impacts of the pandemic on the Australian health system in a series of reports. Other reports containing information relevant to COVID-19 in Australia can be found on the AIHW’s COVID-19 Resources page.

Here at the AIHW we acknowledge the huge efforts that have been made to enhance the evidence base needed to respond to the pandemic. We also recognise the amazing data work done by so many organisations to understand the wide range of health and social issues associated with the pandemic. It is my hope that the current, heightened value that is placed on robust, timely data and the collaboration between numerous players, continues.

Below are some infographics on how Australia is faring compared to other OECD countries. Explore the data here

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