A new data set for more than 80 developing countries reveals some large differences in both health status and health service use by wealth quintile.

Improving health is central to achieving the Millennium Development Goals, but national-level estimates of progress do not reveal the disparities between different groups of the population. A new data set for more than 80 developing countries shows that there are large differences in both health status and health service use by wealth quintile in many developing countries.

Understanding the differences in outcomes and service access between different population sub-groups matters. Average health status or the levels of service access in a country can increase if improvements occur inequitably, say only in upper-income groups, even if the health status of the poor remains unchanged. This new dataset improves understanding of these differences and inequities,

For example, compared to the richest quintile, children in the poorest quintile in Côte d'Ivoire are 3.5 times less likely to be taken to a health facility when they get ill with acute respiratory infections, and children in the poorest quintile in Senegal are 2.8 times more likely to die. Women in the poorest quintile in Angola give birth, on average, to 5 more children than women in the richest quintile. And in Lao PDR, women in the poorest quintile who give birth are 27 times less likely to be attended by skilled health personnel at delivery compared to women in the richest quintile.

The data in the new data set are compiled from Demographic and Health Surveys, and Multiple Cluster Indicator Surveys, using quintiles derived from the information on household assets from these surveys. A description of the methodology used is provided at the MEASURE DHS website.  Access and query the dataset from the World Bank’s DataBank system.

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