Reliable data on the health status of individuals and communities and on the performance of service delivery is essential for planning, operating, monitoring and evaluating health programs in every country. Data is needed on individual health, health facility performance, population health, and community health surveillance.
Too often the data is of poor quality, and gaps exist in the health information system preventing decision making and reporting. In recent years information technology has offered solutions to aggregate health data for example, routine health facility service provision, staffing, and equipment. Information solutions also offered on disease outbreaks, patient records, survey results, and population estimates and trends. A rapidly increasing number of countries and organizations are starting up new deployments of health information systems such as the DHIS 2 software. The challenge is to introduce, advocate for, and help the health authorities to utilize such health information technology and systems in poor countries.
In the northern Ethiopian county of Gondar, International Medical Corps conducted a research study to determine health, nutrition and social needs of urban adolescents. The goals were to determine sexual and reproductive health (SRH) needs and also general health and well-being, nutritional and income generation needs. The findings found six specific issues affecting the community’s youth, including a lack of recreational space that drove youth to engage in risky behavior in risky locations, an unwelcoming environment at the local health center that caused young people to avoid the facility and poor communications between adolescents and their parents. The study suggested multi-sector strategies implemented through the local youth center, health center and via community outreach.
We supported training of government staff on the use of smartphones to collect and transmit data on the progress of our polio project in northern Nigeria.
: In rural Ethiopia, Guinea and Sierra Leone among other countries we have improved data collection and analysis on disease surveillance at the community level.
In countries with government installed District Health Information System 2 (DHIS 2), International Medical Corps trains and supports MOH staff to utilize this system for health data management.