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Table 2 Characteristics of indicators commonly used to justify health programmes.

From: Assessing the impact of humanitarian assistance in the health sector

Established validity as measure of health impact Indicator General ease of acquiring data to show health effects
Highest • Crude Mortality, <5 mortality Difficult in rural/diffuse settings, easier in camps
  • Case fatality rate  
High • Nutritional status of children Easy at the clinic data level, difficult but more valid with population surveys
  • Disease rates  
  • Immunisation status of children  
  • Patient-specific mental health evaluations Logistically easy, requires skill on part of evaluator
  • Safety of blood supply  
Moderate • Food-basket evaluations Easy in camps, more difficult in more diffuse populations
  • Water and sanitation availability  
  • Reduction in measles, mumps and rubella through reproductive health services Very difficult to measure even though benefits are likely to be occurring
  • Improved patient outcomes via referrals  
  • Impregnated bednets distributed  
  • Comprehensive, timely health information system Nearly impossible. These are difficult to measure, and all require a series of events to induce a health benefit
  • Good coordination between sectors  
  • Knowledge & attitudes about services available  
  • Population practices  
Low • People given seeds and tools, shelter, or other materials Easy to measure. Links to health are likely to be mediated via many steps.
  • Drainage, fly control activities or tasks  
  • Number of clinic visits  
  • Distance to facilities, health workers per capita  
  • Trainings conducted, numbers trained Easy to measure. May produce no effects on health.
  • Change in knowledge without documented change in behaviour  
  • Messages/curricula developed