Guiding the way to better data
By Mali Kambandu, Communications Officer, BID Initiative
Apr 11, 2016
Posted in Policies & Practices
Zambia has many challenges that affect health service delivery. One such challenge is the availability of quality data to make decisions. The Ministry of Health (MOH) recognized the need to collect information from health facilities and developed several reporting tools such as the Health Management Information System (HMIS), which captures various indicators across all health areas. Immunization data, where MOH is trying to make significant headway with the EPI targets, lacked consistent, clean data for decision-making to improve service delivery nationwide.
To improve the quality of data, MOH and the BID Initiative developed a data-use guide, which highlights common errors, possible causes and suggested actions to address those errors. For example, the guide has particular data elements or hot spots health workers can look at and correct, if inaccurate. For instance, the BCG doses and OPV 0 should show equal coverage indicators as they’re administered in the same visit, as soon as possible after birth. If there is a difference, the health worker knows to check their data. Setting a high standard for data quality is critical for district and provincial supervisors to make the best decisions for health facilities in their areas.
“When we review our information at the end of the quarter, we can see there are certain areas where we have not performed well. We can come up with strategies or decisions to ensure we perform better,” said Hillary Musole, District Health Information Officer for Livingstone District. Accurate data, such as the standardized data resulting from consistent use of the data-use guide, will help health workers provide timely solutions to problems they encounter.
Mr. Musole recently shared his experience with the data-use guides in a micro training video, one of the change management interventions used by MOH and the BID Initiative to improve data use in health facilities. This brief video will be part of a package of videos available on the tablet computers with the immunization registry currently under development. Health workers will be able to view the videos on the tablets and learn techniques to improve their use of data while serving their clients. Armed with these tools, MOH and the BID Initiative empower health workers to make better, data-based decisions that will result in improved health services for babies and their mothers.