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Sustainability: Better data beyond the BID Initiative

By Mali Kambandu, Communications Officer and Monica Mutesa, Technical Advisor, BID Initiative Zambia

Feb 8, 2017

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The BID Initiative’s objective is to improve data quality, use, and collection in the Zambian immunisation programme with the aim of improving the health outcomes of children. Making changes in the way health service staff use their data to make decisions is imperative, but once those changes and innovations are implemented, the government must ensure they are fully integrated into the day-to-day functions of their service delivery, with the budgetary and institutional commitments to support and maintain those functions.

With this long-term vision in mind, the BID Initiative worked closely with the Ministry of Health (MOH) to ensure that the interventions selected would create value to the health staff’s work and were sustainable in Zambian health facilities.

Further, the BID Initiative and MOH began developing a sustainability plan early on to outline how BID interventions will be incorporated and sustained in the health service after the initial implementation period ends. A key part of the sustainability plan was an in-depth consultation, held in late January, with various government departments, including the Central Statistics Office, which is the custodian of data policies, the Department of National Registration, the MOH and Ministry of Community Development and Social Welfare, among other stakeholders.

Together with MOH departments such as the Child Health and ICT Units, these stakeholders included other important considerations to sustaining BID interventions:

  • establishing or operationalizing an eHealth policy and directorate to monitor and coordinate activities;
  • developing a training plan for IT and staff at district and facility levels to ensure they can continue the activities they’ve been implementing with the cooperating partner;
  • budgetary allocation to ensure funds are adequate for all tiers of the interventions including maintenance of equipment;
  • establishing the National Review Group (NRG) to oversee the transition of the BID Initiative from PATH to the government of Zambia.

These and other recommendations will be compiled and presented to MOH directors for consideration, and where it’s possible, the MOH will begin execution.

The conversations and work around sustaining BID Initiative interventions after initial implementation ends in 2018 will continue. With positive results in the initial weeks of rollout, we are hopeful that the BID Initiative will move beyond the pilot stage and become incorporated in the Ministry of Health, so that the improved data collection, use, and management will become ingrained in the health service to improve health outcomes.

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