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Building a “smarter” Zambia – the BID Initiative helps advance country’s digital revolution

By Celina Kareiva, Communications Associate, BID Initiative

Sep 22, 2017

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From online banking, to a solar-powered Internet café, and electronic vouchers for the distribution of micro-loans, Zambia is undergoing a digital revolution that is dramatically influencing the growth of the country. More than 80% of Zambians have access to a phone, and 40% have access to 3G connectivity.

“In the last five years, there’s been an explosion of digital innovations, from the way we pay our taxes, to the way we pay our bills,” says Mandy Dube, Zambia Country Representative for the BID Initiative. “Digital innovations are everywhere and ordinary Zambians are using them every day.”

The Smart Zambia Initiative, launched by President Edgar C. Lungu is an effort to improve the health and well-being of Zambians by 2064, by embracing technology in all areas of public service – including in health, transportation, and education. The BID Initiative, by working with the Ministry of Health to introduce data use and data quality interventions to improve immunization services, is helping further this goal. Historically, health workers have used paper immunization registries – thickly bound books with reams of paper and no easy method for searching records. Paper forms limit health workers’ ability to meaningfully analyze immunization data, and their ability to determine what vaccines patients have received, who is overdue for a dose, when that patient is next expected to visit, and the stock levels for different vaccines.

“The BID Initiative is working with the Ministry of Health to ensure that there is integrity at the point of data collection, and that data is made readily available for use,” said Dr. Francis D. Mwansa, Zambia’s National EPI Manager. “That data is then used to make decisions that improve the health outcomes of children.”

Even more important than the tools, is the shifting appreciation for data. As Zambians embrace the many ways digital technologies can improve their lives, a culture of data use has also been established, that encourages health workers to not just collect data, but use it to improve quality of care.

“[This] technology is helping us capture more of the people who seek services from our facilities,” explains Beatrice Mwisa, a nurse at St. Joseph’s Hospice. “It makes our work easier and faster. It helps us improve our logistics and planning.”

To learn more about the BID Initiative’s partnership with the government of Zambia, watch our new video.

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