Global Health Observatory (GHO)

About the Health Equity Monitor

Health equity is the absence of unfair and avoidable or remediable differences in health services and outcomes among groups of people. Data that are presented according to social, demographic, economic or geographical factors can help to identify vulnerable populations and target health interventions. Disaggregated data are useful to track progress on health goals, revealing differences between sub-groups that overall averages may mask. Health equity data provide an evidence base for equity-oriented interventions, and are a key component of mainstreaming gender, equity and human rights as well as equity-oriented progress towards universal health coverage.

The Health Equity Monitor currently includes reproductive, maternal, neonatal and child health indicators, disaggregated by child’s sex, place of residence (rural vs. urban), wealth quintile, and education level. Data are based on Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) and Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys (MICS) conducted in 91 countries, 90 of which are low- or middle-income countries.

Core components of the Health Equity Monitor include the database, country profiles and interactive visualizations:

  • The database presents data for about 30 reproductive, maternal and child health indicators, collected from nearly 200 surveys in 1993-2011. For around half of the countries, data are available for at least two time points.
  • Country profiles highlight disaggregated data for each of the 91 study countries, using the most recent available data.
  • Interactive visualizations show inequalities in select health outcomes and services (situation and trends).

Data were derived from re-analysis of DHS and MICS micro-data. In general, standard indicator definitions were adopted, as published in DHS and MICS documentation. The analysis was done by the International Center for Analysis and Monitoring of Equity in Health and Nutrition based in the Federal University of Pelotas, Brazil.


  • In a few cases there may be minor differences between the data reported here and in previous DHS or MICS country reports due to small discrepancies in the definition and calculation of some indicators. Detailed information about the criteria used to calculate the indicator numerator and denominator values used in these analyses is available in the WHO Indicator and Measurement Registry.
  • Surveys were generally conducted over a one or two year period, thus initial year may indicate the first year of data collection, or the sole year of data collection.
  • For data disaggregated by wealth, a wealth index based on owning selected assets and having access to certain services, was constructed using principal components analysis. The index was divided into wealth quintiles within each country. Wealth index and quintile variables are available in the original datasets. Technical information about calculating wealth variables is available from
  • Only point estimates are shown; data with confidence intervals will be made available soon.