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Data-use tools catching on in health facilities

By Masaina Bwakya, Change Management Associate and Reuben Mwanza, System Implementation Specialist, BID Initiative Zambia

Mar 21, 2017

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Photo: PATH/Reuben Mwanza: Nurse Susan Siyatwiki with volunteer Shadreck.

Since November 2016, the BID Initiative has been rolling out data use interventions in Livingstone and Kazungula districts of Southern Province to help build a culture of data use in the health service. The interventions, such as the data use guide and supportive supervision, have been well-received in the health facilities, with some facilities recording early successes with the tools.

Veronica Mutila is the in-charge nurse and has served Dambwa North since 2014, after spending six years in the Zambian health service. During a visit to Dambwa North facility in January, the BID Initiative noticed the health staff creating data visualization charts and using the data use tools to plan their immunisation services for the coming year. The results that Veronica saw in eight weeks of using the data use interventions are encouragement that simple interventions can make big improvements toward better health.

“With these new tools, I can complete my work and be better prepared for the next clinic and for our reporting,” stated Veronica.

Photo: PATH/Mali Kambandu. Kabanda is a volunteer who helps create data visualizations.

Siakasipa Rural Health Centre has a target population of 4,097 and is situated approximately 48 kilometers from Livingstone district. Susan Siyatwiko, a midwife and the nurse in-charge, has been at the facility for seven years. This small facility has a number of data visualization graphs that capture the facility’s performance by type of vaccine and health areas. The health centre staff, including the volunteers, hold monthly meetings to discuss the findings from the data. For example, when they observe that more vaccines have been administered that month compared to previous month’s usage, they ask themselves…

“What does the change in performance mean? How do our results compare to the target population? Are we serving people who have missed previous vaccines, visitors, or maybe people from outside the catchment area? Do we need to increase stock to more accurately match the number of patients for the next clinic?”

After reviewing the data visualizations, Susan and her team make decisions about how best to tailor their health service delivery based on what they learn and what the data tells them.

BID Initiative has rolled out data use interventions to 41 health facilities in Livingstone and Kazungula districts, and 113 health workers have been trained in data use techniques. The BID Initiative interventions were developed for health workers to enhance their skill in data analysis and using data to make decisions. As health workers increase their access to immunization data and use that data to make decisions, we are also partnering with Ona to adapt the OpenSRP system and to develop an electronic immunization registry. The registry, which will launch in facilities in the coming months, will be an additional tool to ease data collection and access.

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