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BLN Awards Grant to The Gambia

By Tara Newton, Senior Communications Associate, BID Initiative

Oct 27, 2016

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Photo: PATH/Mali Kambandu. Field visit during the BLN Design Country meeting in Ghana.

Photo: PATH/Mali Kambandu. Field visit during the BLN Design Country meeting in Ghana.

We are pleased to share that our first grant has been awarded to The Gambia! The BID Learning Network offers the small grant program to facilitate the advancement of design member country goals that align with the BID Initiative priorities. The program’s objectives tie into the BLN’s overall goals, including experimenting with projects in countries to determine their applicability; and using this experience to inform national and global decision-making.

The Expanded Program on Immunization (EPI) for the Ministry of Health (MOH) in The Gambia will use the BLN grant funds to customize and pilot an immunization tracker using the District Health Information System (DHIS2).

The Gambia is one of the smallest countries in Africa. Although routine immunization coverage is high at about 95% (using PENTA as the indicator), reports indicate higher immunization rates for children in rural areas than urban areas (84 percent and 67 percent respectively) due to inadequate monitoring and follow-up with children who miss scheduled vaccines.

The Gambia has been using DHIS2 in the Health Management Information System since 2009. DHIS2 allows facility and district-level health personnel to collect, manage, and analyze transactional, case-based data records. Information is stored in the system, which allows staff to track patients over time using a flexible set of identifiers. Features include SMS reminders which help notify patients of missed appointments and generate visit schedules.

The BLN grant will allow The Gambia’s EPI to use DHIS2 to develop a comprehensive web-based immunization registry to capture every child born in the western health region, the pilot location. Since the child will be tracked from birth, this will allow health workers providing immunization services to track clients if they miss a scheduled vaccine. The implementation of the system is also expected to improve data use among health workers at the facilities, allowing access to real-time data to make informed decisions on health service delivery. The hope is that this pilot project will pave the way to a nationwide scale up of the electronic immunization registry in The Gambia, closing the gap in immunization, and improving health outcomes.

The project is scheduled to begin in late 2016, and our BLN member leading the project will be sharing lessons learned during their experience through our BLN channels to help other countries make evidence-based decisions for their health care programs. Congratulations to The Gambia and stay tuned for updates on this project and other BLN small grant projects to come!

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