Promoting timely delivery of health services

05 Jun 2014

Heralding a major transformational change in ensuring timely delivery of health services to citizens of Zimbabwe, the Ministry of Health and Child Care (MoHCC) launched its new public website, the district health information system (DHIS-2) database, National Health profiles as well as the surveillance and strategic information reports in Harare on 5 June, 2014.

The development was the culmination of a comprehensive partnership involving the United States President’s Emergency Plan for Aids Relief (PEPFAR); the U.S Department of Health and Human Services Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (HHS/CDC); the Health Transition Fund; and the UNDP-managed Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, in collaboration with UN sister agencies like WHO, UNICEF, UNAIDS and UNFPA.

With the launch of DHIS-2 that was rolled out country-wide to 83 MOHCC sites (all districts, cities, and provincial offices as well as selected hospitals), this “marks a transition from using obsolete electronic systems in the collection of health statistics to the use of faster and more accurate electronic systems” remarked the Minister for Health and Child Care, Dr Pagwesese, David Parirenyatwa.

Saying that Zimbabwe was among the first countries in the region to respond to emerging calls for increased availability of data for improved and effective implementation, monitoring and evaluation of health programmes the minister explained that “routine health information and periodic surveillance has greatly enhanced our national preparedness in outbreaks, epidemics, and related pandemics for collective action.”

Through the Global Fund grant, UNDP supported the adoption and rollout of the DHIS database since its initial inception in 2010 through its evolution to DHIS-2. In the initial phase (DHIS-1.4) UNDP facilitated the procurement of 80 new desk-top computers, accessories, new printers, printing of data collection tools and training of health workers on the proper use of the new database and the data collection tools.

When the ministry adopted the more robust DHIS-2 database in 2013, UNDP again supported the initiative. “This was achieved through the joint efforts towards the mobilization of additional funding from the Global Fund to fill the USD2.7 million funding gap, and ensured that DHIS-2 was rolled out nationally in 2013, in line with the ministry’s objective,” said UNDP Deputy Country Director in charge of Operations, Ms. Denise Findley-Antonio.

Acknowledging the contribution from PEPFAR and sister UN agencies, the Deputy Country Director went on to say that the Global Fund has identified additional resources of $1.4 million from the current HSS grant which will provide further support to strengthen DHIS-2 internet connectivity at national level, capacity building, and a comprehensive assessment of the Health Information Surveillance System (HISS).

“In addition to supporting the DHIS-2 database, UNDP/Global Fund has also provided financial and technical support to the rollout of the Weekly Disease Surveillance System (WDSS), Geographic Information System (GIS) and the Electronic Patient Management System (ePMS),” disclosed Ms. Findley-Antonio.

DHIS-2 is an online system using real-time data and a user-friendly interface. The system integrates information across key health units, including T5 forms, Weekly Disease Surveillance System (WDSS), TB, VHW, Early Infant Diagnosis (EID), HS3, Psych, Rehab, and Indoor Residual Spraying (IRS) systems. It is capable of interoperating with other interdependent systems to date the mobile phone based WDSS and EID that are already connected to the system.

Among the dignitaries who graced the occasion were the U.S. Ambassador to Zimbabwe, H.E, Bruce Wharton, Permanent Secretary in the MoHCC, Brigadier-General (Dr), Gerald Gwinji, Health Advisor in the Office of the President and Cabinet Dr Timothy Stamps, and the Principal Director, Preventive Health Services in the MoHCC, DR. Timothy Stamps.