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Aligning with Partners on Health Data Quality and Use

By Laurie Werner, Deputy Director, BID Initiative

Mar 17, 2015

Posted in

Photo: PATH/Will Boase

Photo: PATH/Will Boase

Recently, I had the opportunity to attend a meeting in Geneva sponsored by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, to discuss their new data quality and survey requirements for countries. While the meeting focused on the communication of these requirements to countries and how to provide support in meeting them, the topic of how to address the overall need to improve data quality and data use (and not merely assessing it at the country level) was also continually highlighted. How can countries know their data quality and then create plans to improve it?

The meeting participants, which included representatives from WHO, UNICEF, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, NGOs (such as JSI and AMP, along with PATH), and several country representatives, highlighted several critical aspects of how global and local partners can work with countries to strengthen their data quality. Areas such as providing and aligning resources (technical and financial), support for planning, and capacity building within countries to analyze and use data. We discussed how to allow countries to align data quality reviews to their annual planning processes so that they can build data quality improvement plans into their overall plans and funding requests. The discussion also highlighted the need to identify and then improve data quality as a benefit to countries, and not as a penalty to them that would mean reduction in funding or other resources and support.

The BID Initiative is looking at these issues down to the facility level, by providing specific tools such as a national electronic immunization registry, to identify children as individuals in their catchment area, rather than just a number. This will help improve the data quality and allow the facility to leverage accurate data to effectively plan their services, and be empowered to know which children are missing potentially lifesaving vaccinations and how to find them. The higher levels of the health system can see the rates of those actually served, and focus on that number in their supervision and programmatic decisions including efforts on how to continue to improve data quality and data use at the local level.

We are striving to find the right balance between supporting countries in their efforts to improve their data quality along with the requirements to receive ongoing support from organizations like Gavi. With the BID Initiative, we are working with countries to develop solutions that will be transferable to many country contexts to improve data quality and data use. Our goal is to identify a package of solutions that will be available to countries to include in their data quality improvement plans and be resources to global partners to support countries to do this work.

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