Date Published: November 30, 2010
Publisher: Public Library of Science
Author(s): Christopher J. L. Murray, Alan D. Lopez
Partial Text: The collection, computation, and publication of health indicators was for much of the 19th century and the first half of the 20th century the business of states—reflecting the etymology of the word “statistics” (from Statistik, or “of the state”). With the spread of independence in the developing world in the second half of the 20th century, the United Nations (UN) began to play a supra-national role in the production of health indicators to bolster weak capacity in some developing countries. Yet, over the past five or six decades, the expectations for the field have expanded considerably. New constructs have been introduced such as cause-specific mortality, quality of care, and functional health status. Measurements must often deal with the simultaneous problems of synthesizing conflicting sources, missing data, instrument bias, substantial non-sampling error in surveys, and missing denominators, particularly in administrative data. Reflecting these complexities, in the last 30 years, the role of the academy has expanded from tools and methods innovation to the production of comparable measurements for key health indicators in various countries  and globally ,. Academic demographers have been involved in the production of comparable population measurements for nearly 50 years . In the last two decades, epidemiology and other health-related disciplines have also been actively engaged in population-level health measurement .
There are five distinct areas that contribute to the ultimate production of timely, comparable, valid, and reliable health indicator measurements and their translation into national policy dialogue.