The BID Learning Network Launches in Kigali, Rwanda
By Meredith Kimball, BID Learning Network Contributor
Jul 9, 2014
The BID Learning Network (BLN) officially launched in Kigali, Rwanda on May 28-30th and brought together delegates from 13 different countries (Burkina Faso, Cote D’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Senegal, Tanzania, Uganda, Nigeria, South Africa, Rwanda, and Zambia) as well as international partners (WHO, UNICEF, and GAVI) to connect and discuss strategies for strengthening national immunization programs.
Dr. Fidele Ngabo, Dr. Maurice Gatera, and Mr. Erich Gaju from Rwanda’s Ministry of Health graciously welcomed participants to Kigali and provided an overview of Rwanda’s EPI and eHealth systems and the challenges they’re. Participants had a chance to view Rwanda’s system in action through visits to health centers in Rwamagana district where Rwanda has implemented the Open Health Information Exchange (OpenHIE).
Participants reflected on Rwanda’s experience during the the BLN meeting and discussed strategies used to address issues around data quality and use, including strategies for improving the identification and capture of patient information, ways to leverage peer learning and training models to support health workers at local, district, and regional levels, and how to effectively communicate the needs of the EPI program to policymakers. Some common challenges shared by participants included:
- How to balance all the systems in use to collect and report data (within and between ministries), and the need for interoperability.
- The need to have a strong understanding of the requirements and total cost of ownership of eHealth systems and of new vaccine introductions.
- The importance of recognizing the human component, asking what are the human resource needs, how will they be impacted by changes, how are they motivated, and what support do they need?
Participants also provided feedback on interventions that will be tested in Tanzania and Zambia over the next few months to ensure that the strategies developed will be relevant and useful for all BLN member countries. For example, BID will test whether placing a barcode on a child immunization card could help to improve the speed and ease with which health workers can retrieve patient information. In addition, BID is working with vaccine manufacturers to test whether including a barcode on vaccines with information on expiry dates, manufacturers, and lot numbers, could help health workers better manage their vaccine stock.
Moving forward, the BLN will take up the priority issues articulated by participants – data quality management, implementing information systems; denominator strategies, and supply chain — and will share the presentations, photos and a summary powerpoint from the Kigali meeting. Please share your thoughts and feedback from the meeting in the comments section, or head to the BLN page to participate in discussions.
For a PowerPoint deck that outlines the objectives, highlights, presentations, and next steps from the meeting ready for you to share with your colleagues, click here.