With this article we aim to provide an overview of some very useful and renowned public health databases. These databases are freely accessible to anyone, and can be of great interest when wanting to examine health issues in a European context.
European Core Health Indicators (ECHI)
The European Core Health Indicators (ECHI) were established through combined efforts of the European Commission and the Member States of the European Union. The goal of introducing the ECHI indicators was to create a comparable health information and knowledge system to monitor the health status of populations at an EU level. While the ECHI workgroup has identified 88 core health indicators of relevance for the EU-region, only about 50 indicators are currently accessible via the ECHI work tool, as many indicators are still under development.
The various indicators of the ECHI database can be clustered under 5 main categories:
1. Demographics and socio-economic situation
2. Health status
3. Determinants of health
4. Health interventions: health services
5. Health interventions: health promotion
Eurostat is one of the European Commission’s Directorate-Generals, situated in Luxembourg. Eurostat is responsible for gathering and analysing statistical information, and to disseminate its findings to the various EU institutions. Furthermore, Eurostat strives for homogeneity, uniformity and harmonization of data collection and data analysis methods within the European Union and beyond. Eurostat keeps track of a very broad range of indicators, and ‘health’ is just one of the many topics covered by the Eurostat database.
Additional health information can be accessed through the main page of the database, clustered under ‘quality of life’ and ‘population and social conditions’: Click here to enter the main page of Eurostat.
Besides comparing the different EU Member States amongst each other, it is also possible to compare different regions and provinces across Europe. The regional comparison tool of the Eurostat database can be accessed by clicking here.
The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has created a very user-friendly database which covers many different topics.
The topic of ‘Health’ is divided in 5 subcategories:
1. Healthcare use
2. Health equipment
3. Health resources
4. Health risks
5. Health status
Health For All database (HFA-DB)
The Health for All database (HFA-DB) was created by the World Health Organization (WHO). The WHO works closely together with Eurostat, the OECD and other key national and international organizations to obtain the necessary data for this database. The HFA-DB contains a very comprehensive selection of health related information for the 53 countries in the WHO European Region.
The information in the HFA-DB is divided in the following main categories:
1. Demographic and socio-economic indicators
2. Mortality-based indicators
3. Morbidity, disability and hospital discharges
4. Life style
6. Healthcare resources
7. Healthcare utilisation and expenditure
8. Maternal and child health
9. Temporary indicators
The interface of the HFA-DB allows users to display information in various tables, graphs and maps. These graphs, tables and maps can then easily be exported for further use (e.g. in a Word document or a PowerPoint presentation). The HFA-DB is available as both an online version (for quick access) and a downloadable offline version (recommended).
Global Health Estimates (GHE)
The WHO’s Global Health Estimates (GHE) offer a comprehensive and comparable assessment of mortality statistics and disease burden rates for all regions of the world. The GHE-database provides an extensive overview of cause-specific mortality, Disability Adjusted Life Years (DALY), Years of Life Lost (YLL) and Years Lost due to Disability (YLD). These statistics are available for the year 2000 and for the year 2012.
After clicking on the provided hyperlink, the different informative spreadsheets can be accessed by selecting the corresponding pages, as indicated with the red arrows in the screenshot below.
Global Burden of Disease
The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation gathers data on topics such as risk factors, mortality, disability, disease burden and life expectancy. Specifically for evaluating the burden of disease, they have developed a user-friendly and aesthetically pleasing comparison tool for assessing how the health profiles of various countries have developed over time.
United States Census Bureau
A rather convenient website to obtain demographic information on virtually every country in the world is the website of the United States Census Bureau. Their international database can be accessed by clicking here.