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Last BLN Discussion Meeting allows for a rich exchange of ideas and resources

By Mali Kambandu, Communications Officer, BID Initiative Zambia

Sep 28, 2017

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Photo: PATH/Mali Kambandu. BID Learning Network delegates listen to a health worker’s experience with Zambia’s Electronic Immunisation Registry.

At last week’s BID Learning Network (BLN) Discussion Meeting held in Lusaka, Zambia, Dr. Andrew Silumesi, Director of Public Health at the Zambia Ministry of Health (MOH), said: “Countries should ensure this network is owned by itself, and offer home-grown solutions to health service delivery. Engage, brainstorm, exchange ideas, exchange experiences and take them back home to implement.”

This is exactly what delegates from over seventeen countries did at last week’s final BLN Discussion Meeting. At this year’s meeting, delegates heard what various countries have achieved implementing electronic health systems. They visited health facilities where the MOH has rolled out Zambia’s Electronic Immunisation Registry (ZEIR) and shared ideas on how learnings from peer networks, such as the BLN, can be sustained.

Sulaiman Etamesor is Chief Statistician at the Nigeria National Primary Health Care Development Agency. This year’s meeting was the second that Mr. Etamesor has attended. He shared why this meeting was so important to address Nigeria’s immunisation challenges.

“I would like to engage with more of the people here, especially countries like The Gambia that have done something incredible in their small country. I would like to learn from them and adapt to our realities in Nigeria,” said Mr. Etamesor. “This network is important as it provides many resources so we don’t have to reinvent what another country has done before, we can adapt their experience to our own. I value the exchange of information in the network and at this meeting.”

Mr. Etamesor went on to explain that because of the partnerships forged at this meeting, he can more easily begin implementing a data-improvement initiative by applying the experiences of his counterparts in the BLN.

Bestinos Chinodya is another BLN delegate from this year’s meeting who hopes to implement improved data quality and data use interventions in Zimbabwe. He has attended three previous meetings in the hopes of gaining information on establishing an EPI registry. This time, he was joined by his colleague, Dr. Portia Manangazira, who manages the national health information system in Zimbabwe.

“We’ve been wanting to implement the registry, but many parties were not sure whether it was what we needed at the time, or how possible it would be to implement it in our context. Now that [Dr. Manangazira] has interacted with ZEIR here in Zambia, and the health workers who have begun using it, I think we will be closer to implementing it when we get home.”

This is one of the many successes of BLN – it allows countries to advance their health delivery services through the resources available in the network.

Participants like Mr. Etamesor are confident that the exchange of resources and experiences through the network will continue among the delegates who gathered in Lusaka.

“We can access the Google Group, but I can also speak to my colleagues here, ask them questions, ask for guidance and improve what we’re doing in one country because of what another country has done,” he said.

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