By Dr. Kristie Clarke, Medical Epidemiologist, Center for Disease Control
Aug 23, 2016
Dr. Kristie Clarke is a medical epidemiologist working on the Global Immunization Division at the Centres for Disease Control (CDC). CDC sponsors the SmartCare electronic health record system, which has an immunization component included, and operates in some of the facilities where BID Initiative is rolling out the new electronic immunization registry. As part of an effort to improve vaccination data quality in Zambia, the author and investigative team explored existing paper and electronic record-keeping systems. This post is a preliminary overview of the results.
Optimizing immunisation coverage in Zambia is an important goal, achievable with Ministry of Health leadership and close collaboration among partners. Implementation of appropriate technology could help to increase coverage, but new technology is not a solution in itself. The skill and engagement of users are critical elements for the success of any innovation.
Through a joint project with the Ministry of Health, we asked facility staff members their opinions on immunisation record-keeping in Zambia. For this exploratory cross-sectional, mixed-methods study, we visited a diverse selection of 10 facilities in Lusaka and Southern Province, conducting interviews with facility staff.
The team shared preliminary results with Zambia BID Initiative leadership within one week of completing data collection. This study was an excellent opportunity to learn lessons about successes and challenges with electronic records of immunizations, and to share with others so that we can all have greater success in reaching every child in need of vaccination.
Key findings from the study include the following:
A final report with comprehensive findings and a full explanation of methods will be published and disseminated later this year.
The CDC team is excited to continue collaboration with BID Initiative in Zambia. In particular, concerns about sustainability highlight the opportunity to collaborate on immunisation data standards and ensuring interoperability of any innovation with digital systems already used by health facilities, such as SmartCare. By pulling together towards a common goal in partnership with the Ministry of Health, we can accelerate progress towards a time where every Zambian child has a healthier future through immunisation.
The findings and conclusions in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Dr. Caroline Phiri, Director of Mother Child Health, Zambia Ministry of Health
Dr. Idongesit Essiet-Gibson, Deputy Associate Director for Health Information and Epidemiology, CDC-Zambia
Dr. Kristie E.N. Clarke, Medical Epidemiologist, CDC Global Immunization Division
Dr. Francis Mwansa, Child Health Specialist, Zambia Ministry of Health
Andrew Kashoka, Assistant Director for Information Communication Technology Unit, Zambia Ministry of Health
Maggy Kwendakwape, Project Coordinator, AFENET/CDC
Dr. Adam MacNeil, Strategic Information Team Lead, CDC Global Immunization Division
Data collection team:
Sara Andrist, Monitoring and Evaluation Specialist, CDC Global Immunization Division
Dr. Daniel Rhee, Epidemic Intelligence Officer, CDC Division for Global Health Protection