Using multidimensional poverty and vulnerability indices to inform equitable policies and interventions in health emergencies

This seminar is organised jointly with the Institute for International Economic Policy at George Washington University and the UNDP Human Development Report Office. This seminar will be held online. Registration:

Health emergencies pose serious threats to human lives and livelihoods. They also risk exacerbating disadvantages by unequally affecting those who are already worse-off. Identifying how different population subgroups are unequally exposed, susceptible, or vulnerable to diseases, due to social, environmental, and economic implications of health emergencies is vital in developing equitable preparedness, response and recovery measures.
WHO and the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI) have been collaborating to explore how the global Multidimensional Poverty Index (global MPI) and national multidimensional poverty and vulnerability indices (MPIs or MVIs) could be used in health emergencies, especially in the face of COVID-19 pandemic and its socio-economic consequences. This talk provides a brief overview of how MPIs and MVIs can be used in health emergencies to prevent or mitigate the impacts and to prevent exacerbation of pre-existing inequalities and deprivation. It presents four ways of using multidimensional measures in health emergency contexts, drawing examples from recent studies.
The use of multidimensional measures in the context of health emergencies is new, which invites further discussion, study and exploration by wider stakeholder groups.

Dr Niluka Wijekoon is a medical epidemiologist. She works in the Emergencies Programme at WHO headquarters in Geneva, in the Department of Health Information Management and Risk Assessment.
Dr Niluka is a technical expert in surveillance, early warning, alert and response in emergency settings. She has started her public health career with the United Nation’s International Organization for Migration (IOM) as the Emergency Health Coordinator in Sri Lanka, during the ethnic crisis. She has first joined WHO in 2011 as the Officer in Charge (OIC) of WHO’s emergency hub in Vavuniya, Sri Lanka. She has been with WHO headquarters since 2014 and has worked in emergencies and outbreaks around the world, including in Ethiopia, Kenya, Liberia, Sierra Leon, Guinea, Nigeria, South Sudan, Mozambique, Rohingya crisis is Bangladesh, NE Syria, Yemen, DRC, and Indonesia. Dr Niluka also manages WHO’s electronic tool for early warning, alert and response named EWARS-in-a-Box, an innovative solution for outbreak detection in emergency settings.
Before embarking on a public health career, Dr Niluka worked as an emergency physician in both public and private healthcare sectors. She obtained her Master of Public Health from The University of Sheffield, UK and Master of Biostatistics and Epidemiology from French School of Public Health, Paris, France (École des hautes études en santé publique).
Dr Niluka has been a human rights and gender champion from the onset of her career. She is the Gender, Equity and Human Rights (GER) focal person for her department at WHO and also an active member of the team which leads the research brief on using multidimensional poverty and vulnerability indices to inform equitable policies and interventions in preparedness for, response to and recovery from health emergencies.

Juan Daniel Oviedo was appointed Chief Statistician of Colombia in August 2018. He has international professional experience in economic consulting for energy markets, and national experience in government and teaching. Previously, he was the Director of Institutional Planning and Research (2016-2018) and Director of the PhD School of Economics (2013-2016) at the Universidad del Rosario of Bogotá. In addition, he was the Founding Partner and Chief Director of LEICO Consultores (2011-2018), a leading consulting firm which performed as an expert opinion both for the private and public sector in regulated industries in Colombia and Latin America. He holds a permanent academic position at Universidad del Rosario of Bogotá (Colombia) since 2005. Juan has a PhD in economics from the University of Toulouse 1 (France) and BA in economics from the Universidad del Rosario of Bogotá (Colombia)