Monitoring health equity in the MDGs: a practical guide

Monitoring health equity in the MDGs: a practical guide

Methods for analysing inequality in maternal and child health

This guide is a joint publication by the Centre for International Earth Science Information Network and UNICEF. It is designed for researchers, programme staff, and policymakers who are interested in monitoring maternal and child health within a country in a way which is sensitive to equity issues – such as the health gaps between rich and poor, between well-educated and less-educated, and between rural and urban. It provides a method for analysing indicators across social groups, including by wealth, ethnicity, education, region, sex, and geography. The analysis demonstrates that in order to understand and promote equity, it is necessary and feasible to establish a baseline using a variety of indicators, even in very low-income countries and countries which have problems gathering data.

The analysis reveals that those who suffer from income poverty are also likely to be disadvantaged in levels of education and access to services, and may also face ethnic discrimination. It also shows large differentials between geographic regions, and between urban and rural populations. The paper concludes that the current focus on pro-poor health policies is an oversimplification, which omits other core sources of health inequities. The authors recommend that health messages and programmes should be designed to reach less educated mothers and their children, because educational attainment of mothers is a critical social determinant of most health indicators.

  1. How good is this research?

    Assessing the quality of research can be a tricky business. This blog from our editor offers some tools and tips.