Data Equity to Advance Health and Health Equity in Low- and Middle-Income Countries: A Scoping Review

Data Equity to Advance Health and Health Equity in Low- and Middle-Income Countries: A Scoping Review

Published: Dec 22, 2021
Publisher: Digital Health, vol. 22, issue 7


To assess a common hypothesis that data serve as a mechanism to improve health and health equity in low-and middle-income countries (LMICs), we conducted a synthesis of the evidence about the linkage between data capabilities in LMICs and health outcomes.


We searched and reviewed peer-reviewed and grey literature published in the past decade that focused on at least one aspect of health data or health equity or provided insights on the relationship between data use and improved health outcomes, decision-making, or both. We supplemented this with expert interviews and convenience-sampled literature.


Of the 50 included articles, 33 discussed data collection, with 23 stating that poor accuracy, reliability, and completeness hindered data-informed decision-making. Of 27 articles discussing data access, 18 described how lack of interoperability between data systems hampered governments’ and other organizations’ ability to leverage the full value of data available. Of 19 articles discussing data use, 13 discussed how data were not getting to those doing work on the ground. Although key informants postulated a virtuous cycle between data and improved health outcomes, evidence did not support this connection.


Findings indicate better data might improve health service delivery. However, more work is needed to examine whether improvements in data yield improvements in health outcomes in LMICs. Our conceptual framework of data equity for health and health equity developed through this scoping review helps identify the key components along which to assess improvements in LMICs’ data capabilities.

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