Knowledge

Knowledge, in relation to public health, is the gathering and analysing (retrospectively and prospectively) of information about the determinants of health; the causes, patterns and trends of disability; ill-health; resilience and health; and well-being in the population. Information is used to inform health protection and health-needs assessment and planning.

Knowledge

Components of public health information include:

Surveillance, monitoring and evaluation: the continuous, systematic collection, analysis and interpretation of health-related data needed for the planning, implementation and evaluation of public health practice.

Information can be used to:

  • Serve as an early warning system for impending public health emergencies.
  • Document the impact of an intervention or track progress towards specified goals.
  • Monitor and clarify the epidemiology of health problems, to allow priorities to be set and to inform public health policy and strategies.
  • Evaluate process and outcomes to continuously improve practice.

Examples of surveillance information include routine data, indicators, surveys, statistics and data collection of denominators, outcomes and determinants, disaggregation of life course and inequalities, data analysis, and reporting and dissemination.

Examples of monitoring information include using surveillance data and active monitoring processes (e.g. for communicable diseases) and risk assessments (e.g. Health Impact Assessments).

Research and evidence: quantitative and qualitative research and evaluation on inequalities, health determinants, causes, patterns and interventions. Information can be used to assist planners for priority setting, especially in relation to:

  • Burden of diseases.
  • Identification of future risks, scenarios and projections.
  • Economic analysis.
  • Systems analysis – to identify key effective areas, to tackle problems and to intervene when necessary.

Monitoring:

  • Burden of diseases
  • Identification of future risks, scenarios and projections.
  • Economic analysis.
  • Systems analysis – to identify key effective areas, to tackle problems and to intervene when necessary.

Risk and innovation:

  • Identify risks and opportunities, feasibility and impact on health inequalities; evidence on effective risk management for planning.
  • Promote research and community-based innovation to find solutions for complex public health challenges.
  • Application and meaningful use of digital health for monitoring and surveillance, management and treatment, public information, and research.

Dissemination and uptake:

  • Clear communications adapted for policy-makers, planners and practitioners outlining options, risks, costs and anticipated outcomes.
  • Understandable information to enhance the uptake of messages to enable planning by policy-makers and planners.
  • Understandable information to enhance the uptake of messages to empower and inform communities and the public.

Activity in the Commonwealth

The establishment of the Commonwealth Institute for Digital Health in the Sri Lankan capital Colombo will take forward commitments under the Colombo Declaration, launched in October last year, to improve health across the Commonwealth by providing a home for digital health stimulating research and innovation across Commonwealth countries.

To go back to the systems framework for healthy policy, please click here…. Systems framework