The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation was launched with the goal of providing an unbiased, evidence-based picture of global health trends and determinants to inform the work of a broad range of organizations, policymakers, researchers, and funders.
With the stability of long-term funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the state of Washington, IHME combines the academic excellence of a university research institute with the independence and entrepreneurial spirit of an NGO.
The first nine months
IHME hired more than 30 staff members, started its Post-Bachelor Fellowship program, moved into its new home in Seattle’s Belltown neighborhood, and recruited an international board comprised of some of the most respected leaders in public health.
Laying the foundation
In 2008, IHME started gathering data from 200 countries and many subnational agencies to create new assessments of causes of death and mortality in both children and adults. We developed new methods and tools to analyze that data. We also launched our Post-Graduate Fellowship program, recruiting researchers with PhDs and MDs from around the world to further their studies while helping advance our work.
Sharing our knowledge
Our initial research gave rise to some stunning findings in late 2008 and early 2009. At the global level, we revealed inequalities among countries in terms of screening for cervical cancer, documented the extent of war-related deaths over five decades, and showed how countries receiving donor funding for childhood immunizations were not vaccinating as many children as previously thought. On the local scale, we explained how in many counties in the United States people were actually living shorter lives than in the 1960s and generated the first estimates of how many lives could be saved in the US by addressing modifiable risk factors.
Making an impact
Over the next two years, our research led to a deep engagement with policymakers and researchers, allowing us to provide guidance on crucial health decisions and to inform the debate around health measurement. Launched in 2009, our annual Financing Global Health report, which tracks more than $200 billion in public and private contributions to public health worldwide, has become a must-read. As a result, IHME has advised NGOs, international agencies, and national policymakers on accountability in health funding, including Oxfam International, the International Aid Transparency Initiative, and the US government. Our advancements in measuring mortality also have changed the way health metrics are being used. For decades, the global health community lamented that a half-million women died every year from complications related to pregnancy and childbirth, a number that did not appear to be declining despite increasing amounts of policy attention and resources. IHME collaborated with other researchers to re-examine the trends in maternal mortality since 1980 and found that there had been considerable progress. To help countries better understand their own trends in maternal mortality, we began training policymakers in our new methods, including agencies from Brazil, Cambodia, India, Sri Lanka, and the Philippines.
And here we are
IHME has continued to build the framework for a different approach to global health measurement through new research publications and policy discussions. By starting a master’s program track in health metrics at UW and by expanding our training programs for researchers and policymakers, we are growing the field of health metrics. With a current workforce of nearly 100 faculty and staff members, IHME is helping to create a stronger foundation for strategic decision-making in population health.