Improving Nigeria’s National Health Information System

In 2013, MEASURE Evaluation helped improve health outcomes in Nigeria through three primary activities: 1) assisting the country’s government in improving HIV/AIDS data quality, 2) validating guidelines on routine health information systems (RHIS) data management, and 3) supporting the review of a health information management curriculum for health records officers.

Nigeria Meeting

MEASURE Evaluation is helping to improve health outcomes in Nigeria through three primary activities: 1) assisting the country’s government in improving HIV/AIDS data quality, 2) validating guidelines on routine health information systems (RHIS) data management, and 3) supporting the review of a health information management curriculum for health records officers.

To address HIV/AIDS data issues, MEASURE Evaluation has been providing technical assistance to the National Agency for the Control of AIDS and other stakeholders since 2008. This support involves training data auditors using MEASURE Evaluation’s routine data quality assessment tool. In November 2013, MEASURE Evaluation helped train 50 data auditors, from government agencies and implementing partners. Participants then used what they learned to conduct data quality assessments in more than 50 sites and facilities throughout 18 states. The auditors reviewed data collected on indicators for antiretroviral therapy, prevention of mother-to-child transmission, HIV testing and counseling, and orphans and vulnerable children. Through this work, the project seeks to expand data-improvement skills to partners in more areas of Nigeria.

“We’re helping to improve the quality of data in Nigeria by bringing it closer to the points of service,” said Samson Bamidele, MEASURE Evaluation’s Senior Resident Technical Advisor in the country.

For the second activity, Nigeria is helping validate a set of guidelines on data management for RHIS to be used around the world. For this initiative, 30 individuals attended a workshop in Cross River State to review guidelines that provide information and instructions on managing data in RHIS. The Nigerian Ministry of Health (MOH), especially the agency responsible for the Nigerian Health Management Information System, helped select workshop attendees who were representatives of about 10 international and national government agencies and partners.

Building on the Health Metric Network's efforts to ensure standardization of health information systems, Nigeria is evaluating the guidelines’ practicality and providing feedback on what elements of them are and are not relevant in each country’s context. The guidelines are intended to serve as a reference tool for countries to align their RHIS with international standards regarding data management, analysis, and using data for decision making.

MEASURE Evaluation’s third activity in Nigeria is to revise a curriculum and courses for health records officers. Due to evolving and emerging issues in health information management, the current curriculum does not allow graduates of health records and health information management-related programs to accurately respond to changes in these fields or monitoring and evaluation (M&E) needs that may arise. Thus MEASURE Evaluation and the MOH partnered with the National Board for Technical Education and the Health Records Officers Registration Board of Nigeria to implement a curriculum-review process and draft a new document. The review began in April 2013 with an analysis to identify existing weaknesses and suggest issues that can be included in future curricula. Document revisions include more information on addressing data management concerns and how to implement electronic health records. Now three independent reviewers—one professor and two doctors—are evaluating this version and making recommendations to curriculum authors on the boards. Bamidele said following this process, a new curriculum will be written and potentially completed in early 2014. Once the National Board for Technical Education approves the final draft, the curriculum will be ready for use.

These activities build on MEASURE Evaluation’s other work in improving M&E systems for health programs in Nigeria. To ensure the work is sustainable, the project collaborates with national government and other local partners, such as universities. Bamidele said organizations also have taken note of the project’s successes throughout the country and reached out to him to requesti MEASURE Evaluation’s assistance. One request came from the National Health Insurance Scheme, which wanted help developing an impact assessment.

“MEASURE Evaluation has done so much in the country and has become a household name with M&E practitioners,” Bamidele said.