Teaming Up for Assessment in Mali
MEASURE Evaluation staff members from different countries recently teamed up to assess health data collection in Mali, an example of south-to-south collaboration. They examined community health facilities to see how they recorded and reported data, and suggest improvements if needed.
Results, which were presented to the country’s ministry of health in November 2013, showed that much of the data collected at the community level were not being reported to the national health information system (Système local d’information sanitaire). Timeliness for data reported also was a concern, with reports sent quarterly when they should be sent monthly.
The collaboration that spearheaded the assessment “worked well and I think it is definitely something to support,” said Dr. Mounkaila Abdou Billo, a former MEASURE Evaluation resident advisor in Mali. Billo, the technical lead for this activity, worked on the project with Dr. Romain-Rolland Tohouri, an information technology advisor for MEASURE Evaluation in Cote d’Ivoire. Billo commissioned the study, identified potential partners in Mali, participated in the training of surveyors, and visited a few facilities; and Tohouri, designed the survey form, trained surveyors, organized the fieldwork, visited data centers, and analyzed the data. They were supported by Mali MEASURE Evaluation staff led by Dr Jean-Marie N’Gbichi.
The evaluation was conducted in June 2013, following a request from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) mission in Mali. The assessment used tools from MEASURE Evaluation’s Performance of Routine Information System Management (PRISM) framework: the Routine Health Information Systems (RHIS) Performance Diagnostic Tool, the RHIS overview and facility/office checklist, the organization and behavioral questionnaire, and the RHIS Management Assessment Tool.
Each tool has approximately 50 questions that surveyors asked at facilities to determine whether data that community health workers gathered were thoroughly collected and documented, and then accurately reported to the district level. Data accuracy focused on two indicators (total number of cases of diarrhea and total number of uncomplicated cases of malaria) at the community level, using the community health workers’ registers. The assessment focused only on the district- and not regional-level.
Six surveyors, organized into three teams, were trained to collect data using PRISM tools and assessed a total of 20 facilities. Following the evaluation’s completion, results were analyzed and recommendations were drafted. Now that results have been shared, the health ministry and USAID in Mali will assess next steps for improving how data are collected and recorded.
Tohouri said there is value when different skills can be combined through such collaborations. “What can be done in Mali can also be applied in Cote d’Ivoire,” he said. “We have the same setting and the same problem most of the time.”