Zambia celebrates its progress and commitment to better data
By Celina Kareiva, Communications Associate, BID Initiative
Jul 21, 2017
Today, the BID Initiative is celebrating its partnership with the Ministry of Health (MOH) in Zambia, and the formal release of the Zambian electronic immunization registry (ZEIR). In a showcase event Zambia’s First Lady Esther Lungu, and the Permanent Secretary of the MOH, Dr. Jabbin Mulwanda, among other special guests will jointly celebrate progress toward fostering a culture of data use among healthcare workers (HCWs) to improve immunization coverage throughout the country.
Improving immunization data quality and use through various tools and interventions allow HCWs to better identify gaps in care, and then make informed decisions on how to address them. Peer support networks, data use campaigns, automated reports, and dashboards to monitor vaccine stock levels shift HCW workloads away from tedious administrative tasks, freeing up their time for more meaningful patient care. For instance, children will now be registered into the ZEIR at birth, automatically generating vaccines schedules and notifying HCWs when a child has missed a vaccine dose. Today’s showcase event symbolizes our commitment, along with the MOH to ensuring data use and data quality interventions are truly scalable and sustainable, beyond the Southern Province, the BID Initiative’s initial test site.
Guests include country representatives, and delegates from the WHO, UNICEF, CDC, USAID, DfID, World Bank, and DIAL, among others. The event features a demonstration of ZEIR, an update on Zambia’s progress to date, health worker testimonies, and speeches by the First Lady, and Dr. Mulwanda, among others.
“Data is a critical tool in the health service,” says First Lady Mrs. Lungu. “As a mother, and as a Zambian positioned to advocate for better health for children, [our progress] is encouraging and it demonstrates the hard work the Zambian government is doing for its people. It pleases me to witness these successes and hear from nurses where the work has an impact.”
For Regina Chilekwa, a nurse at Mahatma Gandhi Clinic in Livingstone District, data is another tool to help her do her job better, just like the cotton swabs, syringes, and sharp box she collects before each immunization clinic. She snaps a picture of a young patient, using her tablet and uploads it to the system, syncing the information to the child’s ID number and full vaccine history. Before the patient leaves, Regina will inform her about her next appointment.
“We have children who don’t come for immunizations, and so they are vulnerable to sicknesses, and different types of diseases,” says Regina. “Now it’s very easy to capture that child who has missed a vaccine, because the tablet will show us.”
Even parents have noticed improvements to immunization services.
“When my first child was born, there was no [electronic immunization] system like there is today. There used to be a lot of delays. This time it’s easier because they scan our child health cards, and pull up our information,” recalls Lynn, whose youngest child, a patient at Mahatma Gandhi Clinic in Livingstone, missed a vaccine dose. Because HCWs now have better access to data, they followed up with Lynn to bring her child in for vaccination.
The BID Initiative and MOH have plans to rollout to 267 facilities across Southern Province. Already, 1,568 children have been registered in ZEIR and 41 facilities are now implementing interventions to improve data collection, quality and use. The BID Initiative is also rolling out interventions in Tanzania, where more than 81,735 children have been registered in the country’s EIR, and 285 facilities are implementing data use and quality interventions. Tanzania recently announced plans to expand to the Tanga and Kilimanjaro regions.