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Reflections from the field: Better data, better health.

By Monica Graham, Communications Manager, BID Initiative

Jan 12, 2016

Posted in , , ,

Last month I was in Arusha to participate in the BID Learning Network discussion meeting and visit facilities where the BID Initiative is working to enhance immunization and overall health service delivery through improved data collection, quality, and use.

Women waiting for immunizations.

Photo: PATH/Monica Graham.

These women are waiting in line at the Usa River Health Center so their children can receive lifesaving immunizations against deadly viruses such as polio and rotavirus. During my visit, I saw what improving data quality and use really means for health workers and the communities they serve.

Photo: PATH/Monica Graham.

Photo: PATH/Monica Graham.

For this mother and her two daughters, it means that health workers can more quickly and reliably keep track of the vaccines her kids receive and follow up with her if they miss a scheduled dose.

Photo: PATH/Monica Graham.

Photo: PATH/Monica Graham.

It also means that health workers such as Oliver, a registered nurse and Sister in Charge at Usa River, can use data to estimate how many kids she’ll see on immunization days—and how much vaccine stock she’ll need to serve them.

Photo: PATH/Monica Graham.

Photo: PATH/Monica Graham.

With new policies and practices such as a WhatsApp group where health workers can reach out to each other to collectively address challenges, coupled with solutions such as the electronic immunization registry, Oliver and her peers are now connected to the data and resources that will help them better plan and deliver care.

Photo: PATH/Monica Graham.

Photo: PATH/Monica Graham.

Eventually, this leads to reduced wait times, fewer stock-outs, and more time spent providing care—rather than spending hours and nights and weekends reviewing dense, heavy registry books to find each child, register which vaccination they receive, and compile reports for the district.

Photo: PATH/Trevor Snapp.

Photo: PATH/Trevor Snapp.

I was really struck by the progress the BID Initiative is making in building a culture of data use and improving systems. Today, health workers are collecting, using, and even expecting better data to make better decisions around how to deliver services. And through the BID Learning Network, an-African led peer learning network, we’re ensuring the BID Initiative solutions can be packaged and tailored for other countries interested in addressing data quality and use challenges.

The shift in just the last few years is really amazing—together, we’re truly contributing to better health.

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