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Published On: Wed, Jan 22nd, 2020

Analyzing importance of data in Nigeria’s health sector

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Minister of health (middle), with other stakeholders during a two days National Dissemination workshop in Abuja.

By Tobias Lengnan Dapam

The Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire and stakeholders in the health sector on recently converged on the nation’s capital to jawjaw on importance of data in information dissemination in the country’s health sector.
The two days National Dissemination Workshop of the Revised National Health Management Information System (NHMIS) Tools (Version 2019), which meant to revise the NHMIS tools to the States, implementing partners and other relevant stakeholders amongst others.
The workshop saw Commissioners of healths, data experts from the 36 states and other stakeholders in the sector.
Speaking, the Minister said the Health Information System (HIS) is one of six key Building Blocks of the healthcare system, designed for the collection, analysis, use and dissemination of health-related data, towards improving health outcomes.
“The HIS is important in providing guidance for decision making on the other five blocks. The System is not only for the planning, monitoring, and evaluation of health care service activities, but also for day-to-day patient management, health education, resource allocation, disease prioritization, and decision making. Therefore, a functioning health information system should produce the right information at the right time, to enable policymakers, managers, and service
providers to make accurate, timely evidence-based decisions, to lead to sustainable health outcomes at all levels of care.
“Despite the benefits, poor data quality and limited use of information generated is a major concern. Some health care providers report routine health data with limited or
understanding of the tools. Their use of the tools for decision making at lower levels is also uncertain, neither is there a routine feedback on reports sent to the next reporting level. Funding for Health Management Information system and related monitoring and evaluation activities has so far been largely donor-dependent. This is neither sustainable nor desirable. Though the National Council on Health in 1996 and the 2014 NHMIS Policy recommended government budget lines for NHMIS activities at all levels, it has not been optimally implemented.”
“The tools review process is in accordance with the National NHMIS Policy 2014, which recommended that the NHMIS Tools be reviewed every two years. However, the last review of this data collection and reporting tools was done in 2013; review is necessary to remove obsolete data elements and update the registers with new ones to meet programmes and stakeholders information needs”.
Also speaking, the Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Health(FMOH), Mr Abdulaziz Mashi Abdulaziz has said that Health Management Information System(HMIS), would check quality of services at different levels of healthcare delivery in the country.
The permanent secretary said that the objective of the HMIS would be to record information on health events and check the quality of services at different levels of health care delivery.
He said that HMIS was a tool to gauge patient satisfaction and quality of care in the country.
Abdulaziz said that it could be an instrument which would be used to improve patient satisfaction with health services in the Primary Health Care Centers by tracking certain dimensions of quality service delivery.
He said that the quality service delivery could be checked by comparing perceptions of services delivered with the expected standards.
“The objective of the HMIS would be to record information on health events and check the quality of services at different levels of health care.
“The importance of patient assessment is a part of the concept of giving importance to patient’s views in improving the quality of healthcare delivery,” he said.
The permanent secretary said that the expected benefits include; enhancing Nigerians satisfaction through improved communication; greater provider sensitivity towards Nigerians.
Abdulaziz added that it would also enhanced community awareness about the quality of services; and overall better used of services in the healthcare delivery system.
Also speaking, the Commissioner for Health in Zamfara state, Yahaya Muhammed, said data is necessary in achieving Universal Health Coverage (UHC).
He said the move towards analyzing proper data in the health sector will help the country to revamp its health sector.
He said the Zamfara state governor is doing a lot in the sector to return it to its lost glory.
Also, Dr Emmanuel Meribole, Director, Health Planning, Research & Statistics, said an efficient and effective HMIS was critical to both the healthcare system and to the health of Nigerians by providing the system and data central for policy planning, setting of targets and policy implementation.
Meribole said that it requires the availability of, access to, and analysis of accurate and adequate information that address district, national and institutional development as well as implementation of challenges.
The director said that for sustainability, HMIS considered local settings when designed, stating that stakeholders worked with governments and donors to help build integrated information systems aimed at addressing the challenges in the health sector.
According to him, other than health information system policy and strategic framework development, such challenges encompass national, sub-national information systems integrated with human resource management systems, monitoring and evaluation systems as well as related institutional capacity building.
On his part, Dr. Emmanuel Abatta, head of MHIS in the ministry of health, said the Department of Health Planning, Research & Statistics of the Federal Ministry of Health, has the mandate to ensure the availability of timely, reliable data for evidence-based decision making at all level.
“This led to the establishment of the National Health Management Information System (NHMIS). The NHMIS is a data collection system specifically designed to support planning, management, and decision making in health facilities and organizational levels. In a desire to strengthen the Health Information system, the 56th & 57th sessions of the National Council on Health approved (i) the use of a single integrated but decentralized national routine health database (DHIS 2) hoisted at the Federal Ministry of Health and (ii) the use of a harmonized NHMIS data collection and reporting tools.”
Dr Chinedu Chukwu, Senior Technical Manager, Global Fund Malaria Grant for Management Sciences for Health, said that monitoring and evaluation of any Healthcare system at all levels could not be emphasized.
Chukwu said that the major functions of the HMIS was to collect and manage the health service delivery information for all level of healthcare service delivery outlets in the country.
He said that the HMIS would aide the government to verify, process, analyze the collection of data at all levels and would provide feedbacks on achievements, coverage, continuity and quality of health services to all its healthcare facilities.
The expert said that HMIS would enable the government to disseminate health information through efficient methods and technologies and to also publish a comprehensive annual report in the health sector.

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