First Field Visit in Zambia’s Southern Province
By Fwasa Singogo, Zambia Director, BID Initiative
Oct 27, 2014
The week of October 12th the Better Immunization Data (BID) Initiative team in Zambia and I began our first field activities in the Southern Province. We were joined by representatives from the Ministry of Community Development Mother and Child Health at national, provincial and district levels who visited facilities in Livingstone and helped us kick off an exciting journey to develop solutions and interventions for better health outcomes. The visit to the district was preceded by a meeting with the Provincial Medical Officer, Dr. Jelita Chinyonga, who expressed excitement over the BID Initiative’s presence which will help address existing challenges on immunization data-capturing and data-use in her province and enhance service provision at all levels of the health care system.
While in Livingstone, we had the opportunity to visit Linda, Maramba, Victoria Falls and Simoonga clinics to experience firsthand the challenges the facilities were facing in collecting, analyzing and using data for decision making. If there is one thing that would define initial success in adapting and scaling BID Initiative interventions, it would be health workers’ excitement about the initiative’s interventions, resulting in a willingness to offer information about the current status of data collection and use and candid feedback on how we can make the proposed interventions more successful.
During the facility visits, we introduced immunization registry tools and concepts as part of the proposed solutions for the facility. Discussions were held with health workers to obtain feedback as a precursor to forthcoming testing activities, which we predict will be an iterative process as we refine requirements for an immunization registry.
- We introduced paper registers for use at small facilities and those without electricity, explaining how registers would make a difference in tracking immunizations at the facilities.
- We conducted demonstrations on capturing and registering children for immunization using barcode scanners and mockup system and hardware (e.g. laptop and tablets).
- We validated the fact that the time taken to enter data in various forms served as a deterrent to consistently and correctly entering data.
- Facility staff listened to other intervention ideas such as dashboards, data-use guides, peer networks and micro-training videos that would help address these challenges.
The staff were clearly excited about being part of the initiative that will shorten the time to enter and analyze data and give them the necessary information to make informed decisions about stock and how and where they provided immunization services.
During our visit, we also convened a stakeholder meeting, which included community participation through Neighbourhood Health Committees (NHCs) and other health partners. The meeting reinforced the existence of challenges with immunization data, but also the need for concerted efforts to enhance data-capturing and use starting at the community level through the facilities and onto the national level. It was very evident that there is still work ahead, but from what we saw in the field, there are more reasons to be excited about the issues we can potentially solve through the BID Initiative in Zambia.