Commitment towards measurement and accountability for health reaffirmed

05 MAY 2016

A strengthened health information system is central to evidence-informed, responsive decision making for better public health policies and programmes. Reliable health data is directly linked to an effective, efficient and economical health service which will improve health care.

The European Union (EU) is enabling icddr,b to support the Bangladesh government’s Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) to generate flawless health data from different tiers of health facilities through a unique IT based health information system. District Health Information System (DHIS2) is the software being used to collect and analyse both individual and aggregate data from government led health facilities and this will contribute in transforming data into evidence-informed health policymaking.

Equipping frontline health workers with IT devices to electronically register health data allows them to digitally report this high quality data promptly thus contributing to the system. Under the supervision of DGHS, health data management from all health facilities is playing an important role in the health reporting system which will create accountability and transparency in the performance of health sector.

Regional Conference on Inter-country Measurement and Accountability for Health (MA4H)

Supporting DGHS in organising a marketplace event in the ‘Regional Conference on Inter-country Measurement and Accountability for Health (MA4H)’ in Dhaka during 26 - 28 April 2016 was an integral part of icddr,b’s approach to strengthen government stewardship in health information system.

Photo: icddr,b

Visitors to the marketplace were welcomed by a banner declaring “Sharing information, knowledge and experience through engagement and collaboration for better health outcomes", along with a festive display promoting best practices in Health Information Systems and e-Health solutions organised by Management Information System (MIS) Unit, DGHS and EU supported 'SHARE' project of icddr,b.

This marketplace allowed different organisations to showcase various data application software and programmes to streamline MIS tools and improve data quality issues. As part of the MA4Health/Inter-Country Measurement and Accountability Conference, it followed the conference of Measurement and Accountability for Results in Health (MA4Health) Summit 2015 in Washington, DC, USA during 9-11 June 2015.

Government ministers, leaders from the private sector, civil society, media and multilateral organisations, academia and funding agencies networked at the conference,creating opportunities for coordinating approaches and sharing knowledge and ideas on developing operational plans and roadmaps for implementation of management information systems.

More than 150 participants including 62 foreign delegates attended the event at Pan Pacific Sonargaon Hotel in Dhaka. The last day (April 28) was a dedicated field trip where conference attendees were able to visit different existing health information system of health facilities in Dhaka and neighbouring districts of Bangladesh.

Photo: icddr,b

Dr ATM Iqbal Anwar, Scientist, icddr,b and Project Director of SHARE project, led a senior expert team in the conference. Dr Iqbal reiterated iccdr,b’s support in strengthening MIS and capacity building of health managers to create a culture of data use for health service management and policy making through effective training, coaching and supportive supervision and monitoring.

Dr JAAP Koot, Team Leader, EU Programme Monitoring of the ‘Supporting Public Health Institutes’ and Ms Nadia Rashid, Senior Programme Officer attended the conference from European Union team. Addressing the conference, Dr Koot appreciated the initiative and commented, ‘This conference and marketplace created opportunity for learning from the experience of countries in the region, with regard to e-health solutions and health information system’.

The optimistic notion is significant progress has been made in the improvement and digitalisation of Health Information System with the application of software and E-health solutions in Bangladesh under the leadership of Professor Abul Kalam Azad, Director MIS, and Additional Director General of DGHS. With his constant efforts, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare’s (MoHFW) stewardship role has been strengthened to establish effective linkages of government health facilities with the NGO and private sector with regard to health service delivery and information. Moreover this conference and marketplace initiative by MoHFW promoted demand for data and increased accountability of health programme managers.

Developing an overarching IT Leadership and governance framework along with an integrated Human Resource Information System were also highlighted in the country’s action plan presented in the conference. It is expected this will eventually drive the national eHealth strategy and an integrated approach for health information system of all departments under MOHFW which will contribute to a strengthened and quality data driven health system in Bangladesh.