As COVID-19 continues to destabilize public health systems around the world, it’s clear that strong data and informed decision-making are critical during this crisis. Countries and communities have turned to data to track disease and mortality, better understand the severity and impact of the pandemic, and develop an informed public health response.
To expand capacity to address the ongoing toll of COVID-19, the Global Grants Program has introduced a new round of funding dedicated to projects that address an immediate and critical need for data related to the pandemic response. Proposals for funding should also address a longstanding data use gap in public health processes or systems operations.
A fundamental component of Vital Strategies’ role in the Bloomberg Philanthropies Data for Health Initiative is our Global Grants Program. Grants are targeted to ministries of health, statistical and other relevant agencies at the national, subnational or municipal levels in low- and middle-income countries.
For this round of funding, the Global Grants Program welcomes proposals submitted in collaboration with a current Data for Health partner; proposals will be reviewed on a rolling basis between July 1 and Sept. 1, 2020. Up to $50,000 will be awarded for projects to be completed over a six-month period. Longer-term projects, with higher budgets, will also be considered.
Supporting focused, results-oriented projects that improve public health data, the Global Grants Program plays a key role in equipping governments with tools and systems to collect and use data effectively. The program is designed to enable local experts to lead projects, serving as a source of financial support and technical assistance to in-country partners—national health ministries, statistical agencies and other governmental bodies—most familiar with the challenges of collecting and using public health data.
In Peru, for example, it became clear that existing data collection systems were not able to capture the excess mortality related to COVID-19. In response, public health experts launched a countrywide rapid mortality surveillance effort, to estimate excess mortality this year against historical averages from the same time period during previous years, and to better capture deaths caused directly or indirectly by the pandemic. The Ministry of Health receives updates on mortality trends every week—a critical input into the government’s COVID-19 response.
Another project, in Brazil, has trained technicians working at the municipality level to use verbal autopsy when documenting deaths that have occurred outside of a hospital setting, using a questionnaire that has been modified to account for COVID-19.
For more information on funding eligibility and how to apply for funding, please visit the Global Grants Program website.
The Data for Health Initiative is a global effort supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. It provides technical assistance to low- and middle-income countries worldwide to improve public health data systems at the national level, including improving civil registration and vital statistics systems, maximizing the use of data to enhance public health policymaking and decision-making, establishing and strengthening national cancer registries, and more. Vital Strategies serves as an implementing partner.