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Health information, research, evidence and knowledge

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Data are crucial in improving health.[1] The ultimate objective of collecting data is to inform health programme planning as well as policy-making and, ultimately, global health outcomes and equity. A well-functioning health information system empowers decision-makers to manage and lead more effectively by providing useful evidence at the lowest possible cost.

A health information system has been aptly described as "an integrated effort to collect, process, report and use health information and knowledge to influence policy-making, programme action and research". It consists of:

  • inputs (resources)
  • processes (selection of indicators and data sources; data collection and management)
  • outputs (information products and information dissemination and use).

The role of a health information system is to generate, analyse and disseminate sound data for public health decision-making in a timely manner. Data have no value in themselves. The ultimate objective of a health information system is to inform action in the health sector. Performance of such a system should therefore be measured not only on the basis of the quality of the data produced, but also on evidence of the continued use of these data for improving health systems' operations and health status.

The health information system[2]

The availability and use of information enables:

  • improved definition of a population
  • recognition of problems
  • setting of priorities in the research agenda
  • identification of effective and efficient interventions
  • determination of potential impact (prediction)
  • planning and resource allocation
  • monitoring of performance or progress
  • evaluation of outcomes after interventions
  • continuity in medical and health care
  • healthy behaviour in individuals and groups.

It also empowers citizens by enabling their participation in health care, policy and decision processes; and empowers countries and international partners by enabling better transparency and accountability through use of objective and verifiable processes.

Health knowledge gaps are where essential answers on how to improve the health of the people in Lesotho are missing. This is an issue related to the acquisition or generation of health information and research evidence. The “know-do gap” is the failure to apply all existing knowledge to improve people’s health. This is related to the issue of sharing and translation of health information, research evidence, or knowledge. Although there are major structural constraints, the key to narrowing the knowledge gap and sustaining health and development gains is a long-term commitment to strengthen national health information systems.


This section on Health information, research, evidence and knowledge is structured as follows:

Contents

Analytical summary

Context

Structural organization of health information

Data sources and generation

Data management

Access to existing global health information, evidence and knowledge

Storage and diffusion of information, evidence and knowledge

Research

Use of information, evidence and knowledge

Leverage information and communication technologies

Availability of IT solutions

Global Observatory for eHealth
“eHealth for women’s and children’s health” 2013 survey
World Health Organization, Country profiles
National eHealth policy or strategy

2012 National eHealth Strategy and Policy are in place as a chapter under the MoH National Health Policy. The eHealth Strategy will be ready by December 2013. Ehealth Strategy Ver 01 30th May 2013 -1 (2).doc CDC is funding production, consensus building meeting, printing and dissemination of the eHealth Strategy.

eHealth systems

Recording of Deaths and births is done partially using electronic systems since 2000. There is an electronic information system by the MoH in partnership with Churches Health Association of Zambia (CHAZ), Centres for Infectious Disease Research in Zambia (CIDRZ), Zambia Prevention, Care & Treatment II (ZPCT II) and John Snow (JSI) Health financial resources tracking is done electronically at national level by Ministry of Finance though not specifically giving brake down for reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health expenditure per capita.

Women’s and children’s health policy or strategy

No national policy on women’s and children’s health

Monitoring the status of women’s and children’s health

All the 11 parameters for women’s and children’s health are monitored using electronic and paper.

National overview of eHealth initiatives for women’s and children’s health

There are eHealth initiatives funded by either Public, Private or by Donors

Health services delivery
  • Program Mwana, an mHealth initiative. Established system called ‘Remind Mi’ for treatment compliance and reminder for existing appointments.
  • Pan African initiative at University Teaching Hospital (UTH). Established in 2010 for tele-consultations and eLearning.
Health monitoring and surveillance
  • SmartCare Patient System
Access to information for health professionals
  • SmartCare Patient System
Other eHealth programs
  • Nil
Possible barriers to implementing eHealth services

Infrastructure, Human Resources and Financial are the main barriers.

Knowledge base - eHealth for women’s and children’s health

The organization is willing to share information for publication on eHealth data base.

ICT training for health sciences students

Yes

Continuing education in ICT for health professionals

Yes

Internet health information quality

There is only voluntary compliance by content providers to quality of health related information on websites

Online safety for children

There are no initiatives to provide information on internet safety and to protect children but service providers are legally mandated to provide online safety tools or technologies to protect children.

Privacy of personal and health-related data

There is legislation on privacy of personal information and also specifically to health information of an individual. This is provided for in the National Health Policy and eHeath Strategy.

Social media and women’s and children’s health

Social media has not been used to promote women’s and children’s health.


Endnotes: sources, methods, abbreviations, etc.

References

  1. Everybody’s business. Strengthening health systems to improve health outcomes. WHO’s framework for action (pdf 843.33kb). Geneva, World Health Organization, 2007
  2. Framework and standards for country health information systems, 2nd ed. (pdf 1.87Mb). Geneva, World Health Organization, 2008