COVID-19: ‘Quality Data Fundamental to Saving Lives, Create Better Future’ says UN DESA

By Joyce Mukucha
As the world is still grappling with the global Covid-19 pandemic with a plethora of countries trying to recover from the crisis, following the UN World Data Forum which kick-started yesterday, the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA) said the epidemic has shown that quality data saves lives.
Stefan Schweinfest, Director of the United Nations Statistics Division said the ongoing forum, which is set to end on Wednesday (October 6) in Bern, Switzerland, comes at a critical time as the world was still dealing with the pandemic as he emphasised the need to fill the existing gaps in as much as utilising emerging innovations and technologies is concerned.
“Disaggregated data is needed to contain the disease and for citizens to understand the world around them and guide their actions. We are still faced with huge data gaps. 40 per cent of countries have no birth or death registration system – a basic source for governments to protect their population,” said Schweinfest.
He pointed out that a year into the pandemic, only 60 countries had data on COVID-19 infections and death rates that could be disaggregated on gender and sex and stressed that now was the time for nations to strengthen their commitment.
“There’s an urgent need to make data smarter and utilise emerging innovations to increase the amount and improve the quality of data”.
Schweinfest said that the Forum was organized around six main thematic areas, which include: “leaving no one behind, understanding the world through data, building trust in data and statistics, increasing investment to enhance data collection and addressing gaps that exist reiterating the need to work collectively in crafting effective solutions.
“This can be done by working “as one community to foster innovative practices and capture the status and the needs of all people, by presenting data in a timely manner, while preserving privacy rights and maintaining transparency. It would be difficult for governments to open up and widen their data ecosystems and the challenge is to have more data with “quality assurances. The Forum is a space for the community to collaborate on new initiatives to continue after October 6.”
It has been highlighted that the UN World Data Forum will bring together hundreds of data experts, users and producers working on new data solutions to support the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The Forum will also culminate with the adoption of the Bern Data Compact for a Decade of Action on the SDGs.
The Compact will call on the community to produce data that leave no one behind, to ensure timely, open and impartial data and to build trust in data protection.
It also aims to strengthen the cooperation between various data communities at the local and global levels to achieve the SDGs through data.
Every two years, the Forum puts a spotlight on innovations and data gaps, showcasing progress in the implementation of the data revolution and the Cape Town Global Action Plan for Sustainable Development Data.
Source-UN News

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