It is well recognised that sharing public health data within and across countries is crucial to the prevention and control of infectious diseases, particularly in regions where frequent movements of people or animal carriers facilitate disease emergence and transmission. However, international health cooperation is notoriously difficult to achieve due to the divisive force of state politics and interests, gaps in domestic capacities, and weaknesses in institutional frameworks to support collective action. This study provides a systematic assessment of these issues “in vivo” from the perspective of health authorities and practitioners in Cambodia and Vietnam as well as policy recommendations. As such, it can be relevant to stakeholders in Southeast Asia as well as in other parts of the world where efforts to strengthen regional health cooperation are being made, including Africa and Latin America.
There has been a great intensification in the circulation of data, information, and expertise across borders in Southeast Asia. However, findings from this study document that “data journeys” from production sites to other places can be challenging.
While global standards, guidelines, and rules have been developed to facilitate health data and information sharing, states remain the main framework for the organisation of societies and their institutions, including the health sector. As a result, health information systems are variably shaped by national structures, capacities, rules, and differing approaches to data collection, validation, reporting, and dissemination.
Given these differences, the establishment of regional public health systems requires considerable efforts to harmonise different practices and standards, iron out discrepancies, and create a common platform which can promote equitable exchange and fruitful use of shared data.
This project involved qualitative interviews with 60 domestic and international stakeholders in Cambodia and Vietnam, selected due to their involvement in regional public health networks and programmes.
Liverani, M., Teng, S., Le, S, M., Coker, R. (2018). Sharing public health data and information across borders: lessons from Southeast Asia. Globalization and health, 14 (94), 1-12.