THE Ministry of Health and Social Services has launched the District Health Information System Version 2 (DHIS2), which was made possible with funding from the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, PEPFAR, through the United States Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.
Namibia’s first DHIS, launched in 2003, has been successfully used by the ministry and its partners for many years to record, monitor and analyse the facts and figures that quantitatively describe the healthcare situation in Namibia. The first DHIS was just one of a half-dozen different data-capturing platforms. The competing platforms meant that information was fragmented, making it extremely difficult to consolidate, triangulate and analyse data.
However, DHIS2 fixes that.
Speaking at the launch event this week, United States Ambassador to Namibia, Thomas F. Daughton, said that DHIS2 is a significantly improved, routine data monitoring system that provides a single platform to capture and aggregate all health data.
“That makes improved data interpretation possible, which in turn allows for better evidence-based decision making. Let me give you an example: In order to eliminate mother-to-child-transmission of HIV completely, the ministry needs to monitor current mother-to-child transmission rates across the country in real time. DHIS2 makes that possible,” Daughton said.
“Another example: The ministry needs to monitor the real-time performance of healthcare delivery through indicators like bed occupancy rate and number of out-patient visits. DHIS2 makes that possible, too, providing data to inform decisions about resource allocation and budgeting. Another thing DHIS2 will allow you to do is improve monitoring of immunisation rates, at the same time that it lets you improve routine surveillance of preventable diseases like measles and malaria. DHIS2 allows for better evidence-based decision making in all of those areas – and more.”
Daughton said that the end result will be the more effective delivery of health services to Namibians.
“It’s worth noting that the technology underlying DHIS2 is already used in more than 50 countries on four continents, so we are in good company launching a system that we know will meet the demands we will place on it. DHIS2 will improve the timeliness and quality of data collected, improve how the data is visualised and interpreted, and most important, improve how the collected data is used,” the diplomat said.
Daughton said that in order to be useful, data needs to be accurate, relevant and timely.
“DHIS2 lets technical staff monitor that and more. With a few clicks of a mouse, they can analyse not just the data itself, but how long it took for data to be submitted. I think we
all know the frustrations of having to rely on old data. When we want to know how to address a particular situation or fix a particular problem, we need real-time information to develop real-time solutions. “How many times have we heard, when we ask about a particular problem, that it’s ‘a data issue’? With DHIS2, that should become a thing of the past, and instead you’ll be able to justify every strategic decision with robust data that presents a realistic picture of the current situation in Namibia,” Daughton said.
“So, accuracy, relevance and timeliness – DHIS2 gives you all three. But it has another advantage – accessibility. DHIS2 is a web-based system. Technical teams, program managers and ministry planners can access the data anywhere in Namibia – or in the world, for that matter – provided that they have an internet connection.
“DHIS2 can be accessed on a desktop computer, a laptop, a tablet, even a smartphone. And the advantages of DHIS2 are not limited to the people who are already using the system. DHIS2 will make it much easier for the ministry to respond to requests for data from the public, from the media and from civil society,” the ambassador said.
He said that the improvements in DHIS2 make the system fundamentally more versatile. The same data can be visualised in many different ways – in tables, graphs or maps, for example – as the user prefers.
DHIS2 is built on the concept that each individual user is going to find different representations of the data easier to understand and use.
Daughton said that the launch of DHIS2 provides the Ministry of Health and Social Services with better tools to plan, monitor and adjust its response to the HIV epidemic in Namibia.
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015