The Countdown country profile: a tool for action

The Countdown country profiles present in one place the latest evidence to assess country progress in improving women’s, children’s and adolescents’ health. The profiles, including an interactive version of them and all associated data, can be found through the link below:

Access the Country Profiles

Reviewing the information

The first step in using the country profiles is to explore the range of data presented: demographics, mortality, coverage of evidence-based interventions, nutritional status and socioeconomic equity in coverage, and information on health policies, systems and financing. Key questions in reviewing the data include:

  • Are trends in mortality and nutritional status moving in the right direction? Thinking of this tool as a starting point, how much progress is necessary to reach Sustainable Development Goal 2 and 3 targets?
  • How high is coverage for each intervention? Are trends moving in the right direction towards universal coverage? Are there gaps in coverage for specific interventions?
  • How equitable is coverage? Are certain interventions particularly inaccessible for the poorest segment of the population?
  • Are key policies and systems measures and adequate funding in place to bring coverage of key interventions to scale?

Identifying areas to accelerate progress

The second step in using the country profiles is to identify opportunities to address coverage gaps and accelerate progress in improving coverage and health outcomes across the continuum of care. Questions to ask include:

  • Are the coverage data consistent with the epidemiological situation? For example:
    • If pneumonia deaths among children under five years of age are high, are coverage levels low for careseeking for symptoms of pneumonia, and what can be done to reach universal coverage? Is the percentage of child deaths due to diarrhoea consistent with the coverage levels and trends of treatment with ORS and zinc and improved water sources and sanitation facilities?
    • Does lagging progress on reducing maternal mortality or high newborn mortality reflect low coverage of family planning, antenatal care and skilled birth attendant and are the necessary service delivery systems and policy frameworks in place to facilitate the scale up of these interventions?
  • Do any patterns in the coverage data suggest clear action steps? For example, coverage for interventions involving treatment of an acute need (such as treatment of childhood diseases and childbirth services) is often lower than coverage for interventions delivered routinely through outreach or that can be scheduled in advance (such as vaccinations). This gap suggests that health systems need to be strengthened, for example by training and deploying adequate numbers of skilled health workers to increase access to care.
  • Do the gaps and inequities in coverage along the continuum of care suggest the need for prioritizing specific interventions and increasing funding for them? For example, are countries developing programs that target the poor where disparities in coverage between the richest and poorest quintiles are vast? Is universal access to labour, childbirth and immediate postnatal care being prioritized in countries with large coverage gaps in interventions delivered around the time of birth?

Sample country profile