By Tara Newton, Senior Communications Associate, BID Initiative
Dec 27, 2017
This year was our final full year of the BID Initiative as our initial grant ends in April 2018. As we continue full speed ahead into the new year, we are taking a moment to look back at some of the many highlights of 2017.
After a rapid and iterative development phase, the Zambia Electronic Immunization Registry application, known as ZEIR and powered by OpenSRP, launched its first release in April. Nurses from six health facilities in Livingstone District participated in this first phase of testing. The application is now rolled out across Southern Province and was also adapted for use in Kenya through the I-TECH team.
Zambia’s First Lady, Mrs. Esther Lungu and Minister of Health, Dr. Chilufya Chitalu, attended our showcase event in Lusaka signaling a commitment to improving immunization data quality and use in the country. The event demonstrated data use interventions and the new electronic immunization registry, ZEIR. This support is valuable as the BID Initiative, MOH, other government departments and partners look at advancing the data use work beyond Southern Province.
The BLN joined the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO) for a study visit to Santiago, Chile to exchange experiences in implementing electronic immunization registries (EIRs) and data management systems. Study visits enable health officials and digital health professionals to swap experiences and advice with countries that have successfully designed and implemented data management interventions. Participants included BLN members from Ghana and Zambia, and PAHO representatives from Honduras, Bolivia, Colombia, Costa Rica, and Chile.
We were honored to host Bill Gates in Tanzania to commemorate Tanzania’s progress and commitment to embracing a culture of data use within its health system. Health workers demonstrated how BID solutions are improving access to data and enabling them to make more informed decisions about how to deliver services. They also demonstrated how the BID Initiative has informed broader efforts in Tanzania to strengthen health data systems and data use in healthcare decision-making.
Over the past decade, the use of information and communication technology (ICT) to improve health outcomes has multiplied in the global health sector. One of the primary benefits of ICTs is the improved ability to collect, analyze, and use data. But to do this well and sustainably requires fostering a data use culture. The BID Initiative dives into Defining and Building a Data Use Culture in a white paper released this year.
BLN members from 17 countries came together for a final Discussion Meeting in September this year. Participants heard from various countries about their progress toward implementing electronic health systems and visited health facilities implementing ZEIR.
From its earliest days, the BID Initiative has been committed to sharing its learnings with others interested in improving immunization data quality and use. We launched a series of briefs summarizing our work alongside the governments of Tanzania and Zambia and our lessons and recommendations spanning seven key subject areas, ranging from the software development cycle, to change management, and peer learning.
In late 2017, we expanded to a third region in Tanzania, the Kilimanjaro region. In this region, we will continue to apply our learnings from previous regions but will shift to a more supportive role as the Tanzanian government plays a more leading role in implementing data quality and data use interventions to the 306 health facilities that provide immunization services in the region. Expansion to a third region provides another opportunity to perfect the integration of Tanzania’s Immunization Registry (TImR) and Tanzania’s Vaccine Information Management System (VIMS). Together, the two systems known as the Electronic Immunization System (EIS), offer end-to-end visibility into the vaccine supply chain – from a facility to a national level.
As 2017 closes, we look forward to what we will accomplish in the next quarter in health facilities and in terms of scale and sustainability planning for both of our demonstration countries and through the BLN. Stay tuned as we share what’s next for the BID Initiative in 2018 and beyond.