The BID Initiative Story highlights the value of collaborative, country-driven planning; local leadership and ownership; user-centered design; and continuous learning and adaptation when developing and deploying innovations. It also shows why we are optimistic about our progress and future efforts to improve health services and outcomes across sub-Saharan Africa by transforming data collection, quality, and use.
The BID Initiative Story
Improving health services through innovation in data quality and use
At the Usa River Health Facility in Tanzania, it used to be hard for Sister Oliver Mlemeta to plan for immunization clinics. To figure out how many children were due for vaccinations, she’d spend hours sifting through paper records and tallying numbers. Afterward, she’d cross-check that information against her facility’s vaccine stocks. If Oliver didn’t have enough supplies on hand, she’d call neighboring clinics and retrieve what she needed by motorbike. Sometimes, she had to turn mothers and children away because she’d run out of vaccines.
It didn’t end there. Oliver and her team often worked nights and weekends to record data on paper forms for the hundreds of children they saw during a single immunization clinic. After they sent the data to the district office, at the end of the month, they seldom saw it again. Had the clinic seen more patients than last month? Why the sudden surge in children who didn’t come back for their scheduled vaccines? With no feedback loop and no means to process and analyze this information, they couldn’t address gaps in care, accurately calculate their target population, or determine children who had recently missed vaccines.
Putting the right information in the right hands
The BID Initiative was designed to make Oliver’s work easier, to help her access and use data to do her job better, and to reach more children with lifesaving vaccines. By transforming data collection, data quality, and the use of that data to make decisions, BID worked to empower health workers and countries to improve immunization and overall health service delivery.
Launched in 2013, BID was led by PATH and the governments of Tanzania and Zambia with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The initiative was grounded in the belief that better data, plus better decisions, will lead to better health outcomes. Although BID initially focused on testing and proving its approach with immunization programs, the interventions were designed to be applicable to other health areas, such as nutrition or maternal and newborn health.