DHIS2: The Tool to Improve Health Data Demand and Use in Kenya

Josephine KARURI, Peter WAIGANJO, Daniel ORWA, Ayub MANYA

Abstract


Information garnered from health information systems (HIS) is essential for monitoring health, and for evaluating and improving the delivery of health-care services and programs. Yet the collection, collation, compilation, analysis and reporting of health data in most developing countries is faced with major problems resulting in incomplete, inaccurate and untimely data which is not useful for health decision-making. Increasingly there is growing demand for good quality health information from developing countries as a result of performance based resource allocation by donors. This has led to some initiatives in these countries to reform the existing paper-based systems through computerization. Kenya’s development blueprint titled ‘Vision 2030: First Medium Term Plan (2008-2012)’ identified the need to strengthen the national HIS to enable it provide timely and understandable information on health. But assessments conducted in the country in the past revealed that despite rising demand for health information, the Kenya HIS was weak and poorly integrated. Recognizing the critical role played by a functional HIS, the country initiated an overhaul of the existing system to replace it with the free and open-source web-based District Health Information Software (DHIS2).
This review study looks at the challenges of implementing HIS in developing countries, and how various countries are attempting to overcome these challenges through computerization. In particular we examine the increasing use of the free and open source DHIS2 as the HIS solution for various developing countries and review the outcome of several cases where DHIS2 has been implemented in Africa. Against this backdrop we address the potential of DHIS2 as a motivator for health data availability and use in Kenya.
It is evident that the DHIS2 system has presented unprecedented potential for Kenya to move from the era of unreliable and fragmented HIS system to the more ideal situation of availability and use of quality health information for rational decision making. However it is also apparent that implementation of a technically sound system like DHIS2 is not an end in itself in ensuring improved reporting and use of HIS data. The need for acceptance and adequate support from the national and local authorities, and by all targeted users of this system cannot be overemphasized

Keywords


Health Information Systems; Data Quality; Healthcare Data Demand and Use; DHIS2.

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