More on MMR Estimates

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As many of our readers are likely aware, two sets of estimates of maternal mortality ratios were published this year, by the United Nations (UN) and the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME). After publication of each, the MHTF gathered responses from experts in the field to the released estimates from the UN and IHME.

Now that some of the dust has settled on the debate, experts are taking a step back from the actual estimates themselves to focus more on how the estimates were developed and how to improve global health estimates moving forward. To that end, PLosMed has published a series of papers on the topic, “Can we Count on Global Health Estimates?

The editors note:

We commissioned articles from several experts to provide insights and opinion on what the estimates mean for global health, how their generation can be improved, and how to move forward with better data, measurement, and coordination. Representing very different institutional and political orientations, the experts nevertheless agree that the debate about health estimates highlights the relative importance of “the global” and “the local.” For example, each commentator emphasizes the importance of improving the quantity and quality of individual health data and of improving the role of local experts at the country level. This suggests that contentiousness about health indicator estimates operates too much at the level of the global and political, and not enough at levels where real data are generated and interpreted.

The five papers included in the series offer an excellent continuation of the debate surrounding maternal mortality estimates and offer ways to move forward in increasing the reliability and accuracy of public health estimates.