WHO has developed and implemented a Survey Programme and a World Health Survey to compile comprehensive baseline information on the health of populations and on the outcomes associated with the investment in health systems; baseline evidence on the way health systems are currently functioning; and, ability to monitor inputs, functions, and outcomes.
The Survey Programme was developed in individual countries through consultation with policy-makers and in collaboration with the people involved in routine HIS. It was complementary to their efforts, to ensure periodic data input in a cost-effective way so that important gaps in health information are covered. It also established a baseline for efforts to scale-up health activities.
The World Health Survey has been completed in 70 countries and the data sets have been cleaned and weighted and prepared for analysis by country teams. The majority of the data sets are ready and have been distributed to the partners in the countries with the basic tabulations and discussions are in progress to interpret the results. Many countries have produced a country report.
Different countries have different health outcomes that are in part due to the way respective health systems perform. Regardless of the type of health system, individuals will have health and non-health expectations in terms of how the institution responds to their needs. In many countries, however, health systems do not perform effectively and this is in part due to lack of information on health system performance, and on the different service providers.
The aim of the WHO World Health Survey is to provide empirical data to the national health information systems so that there is a better monitoring of health of the people, responsiveness of health systems and measurement of health-related parameters.
The overall aims of the survey is to examine the way populations report their health, understand how people value health states, measure the performance of health systems in relation to responsiveness and gather information on modes and extents of payment for health encounters through a nationally representative population based community survey. In addition, it addresses various areas such as health care expenditures, adult mortality, birth history, various risk factors, assessment of main chronic health conditions and the coverage of health interventions, in specific additional modules.
The objectives of the survey programme are to:
1. develop a means of providing valid, reliable and comparable information, at low cost, to supplement the information provided by routine health information systems.
2. build the evidence base necessary for policy-makers to monitor if health systems are achieving the desired goals, and to assess if additional investment in health is achieving the desired outcomes.
3. provide policy-makers with the evidence they need to adjust their policies, strategies and programmes as necessary.
Kind of Data
Sample survey data [ssd]
Units of Analysis
Households and individuals
World Health Survey (WHS)
The survey sampling frame must cover 100% of the country's eligible population, meaning that the entire national territory must be included. This does not mean that every province or territory need be represented in the survey sample but, rather, that all must have a chance (known probability) of being included in the survey sample.
There may be exceptional circumstances that preclude 100% national coverage. Certain areas in certain countries may be impossible to include due to reasons such as accessibility or conflict. All such exceptions must be discussed with WHO sampling experts. If any region must be excluded, it must constitute a coherent area, such as a particular province or region. For example if ¾ of region D in country X is not accessible due to war, the entire region D will be excluded from analysis.
The WHS will include all male and female adults (18 years of age and older) who are not out of the country during the survey period. It should be noted that this includes the population who may be institutionalized for health reasons at the time of the survey: all persons who would have fit the definition of household member at the time of their institutionalisation are included in the eligible population.
If the randomly selected individual is institutionalized short-term (e.g. a 3-day stay at a hospital) the interviewer must return to the household when the individual will have come back to interview him/her. If the randomly selected individual is institutionalized long term (e.g. has been in a nursing home the last 8 years), the interviewer must travel to that institution to interview him/her.
The target population includes any adult, male or female age 18 or over living in private households. Populations in group quarters, on military reservations, or in other non-household living arrangements will not be eligible for the study. People who are in an institution due to a health condition (such as a hospital, hospice, nursing home, home for the aged, etc.) at the time of the visit to the household are interviewed either in the institution or upon their return to their household if this is within a period of two weeks from the first visit to the household.