I am a medical doctor with public health experience spanning more than 20 years. I hold a PhD in Health information systems from the University of Oslo, a master’s degree in Epidemiology and a bachelor’s degree in Medicine and Surgery. I work for the Kenyan Ministry of Health in the Department of Health Information System. In addition, I work for HISP Kenya. I was actively involved in data management for the COVID-19 pandemic in Kenya. My interest is in promoting the use of data for informed decisions.
My presentation will be in the session on local innovations on Tuesday 21st June 2022 from 10.30 am to 12.00
Summary of presentation
Public health emergencies such as the COVID-19 pandemic, which require the mobilization of the entire health system, have the propensity of constraining the delivery of essential health services. This is further compounded by the complexity of the COVID-19 control measures that can change people’s health-seeking behaviour. To monitor the effects of the pandemic on the provision of essential health services, the Ministry of Health (MoH) developed a reporting mechanism that involved the generation of reports from the District Health Information System (DHIS2). Manual generation of these reports was time-consuming and often with data quality challenges. This led to the main research question: “How can we promptly generate reports for the essential services for informed decisions?” This paper illustrates how the development of an application in DHIS2 improved the automation of reports during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The MoH formed a multi-sectoral task force to provide regular reports to the policymakers. This team engaged system developers to offer a unique innovative solution through the development of an application launchable on DHIS2 for the essential services reports. Following the DevOps methodology, DHIS2 users were engaged in short loops to pre-test and give feedback to facilitate requisite iterations to meet user expectations. We conducted user training at all levels using a hybrid approach, virtual and physical.
The Essential Services Report Application implemented key visualisations that the DHIS2 platform could not address while using the default analytical features. Most of the outputs were line graphs showing service delivery outputs (such as the number of OPD visits) against time and place. The DHIS2 users viewed the trends in real-time and compared them with the previous periods (before COVID). The platform was easy to retrieve at all levels (national and subnational). Furthermore, one could download the charts for incorporation into reports for informed decisions, enhancing data demand and information use.
The flexibility of the DHIS2 facilitated the innovative implementation of the Essential Service Report App that supported policymakers to continuously monitor indicators and adjust service delivery interventions appropriately. With the application, the government provided promotional messages to diffuse fears and anxiety around contracting COVID-19 in health facilities and maintained essential service delivery during the pandemic. The use of this application has triggered the development of other applications for TB, Malaria and HIV programs.
In conclusion, innovative application development can improve data use for informed decisions in acute health emergencies.