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Aziza Ahmed Seif: Health workers make history as first in Tanzania to retire paper registers

By Celina Kareiva, Communications Associate, BID Initiative

May 30, 2019

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Photo: PATH/Trevor Snapp. A health worker vaccinates a young patient in Tanzania.

This blog series launches the BID Story, and recounts our journey to design, develop, and implement data quality and use interventions in Tanzania and Zambia between 2014 and 2018.

In March 2018, Aziza Ahmed Seif and her fellow nurses at the Mikanjuni Health Center in Tanga, Tanzania, made history. They, along with workers at 32 other health facilities in Tanga, retired the thick paper immunization registers they had spent their entire nursing careers using and embraced a digital system that places a universe of data at their fingertips. They traded pen and paper for a tablet framed by colorful data visualizations, swapped crowded tally sheets for a simplified stock management module, and replaced the long evenings of record-keeping that used to characterize immunization clinics with a series of automated reports.

Going paperless

Mikanjuni is one of more than a thousand health facilities in Tanzania that have embraced data quality and use interventions, ranging from the Tanzania Immunization Registry (TImR) to behavior change campaigns focused on a culture of data use and bar codes on child health cards to uniquely identify patients.

Mikanjuni sees between 20 and 24 children each day, or approximately 100 children each week. This can lead to long queues, with patients sometimes waiting several hours before seeing a nurse. Adding to their workload, health workers have historically relied on paper records to determine which vaccines patients have received, and when. But the dizzying array of data—birth dates, the number of vaccine vials on hand, and projected patient volumes—was overwhelming. If a patient missed a vaccine, it was often lost in this sea of numbers.

“Sometimes you’d forget to tally everything, because there were so many registers,” remembers Aziza. “Missing a record used to lead to a reporting disaster at the end of the month. The burden was too great when the nurse at the clinic didn’t know how the registers were filled, or if she misplaced the record.”

Several missed tallies might result in incorrect reporting and lower stock estimates, resulting in stockouts and a child potentially missing a lifesaving vaccine.

To read the full profile, visit the BID Story.

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