Community Health Information System for Family-centered Health Care: Scale-up in Southern Nations, Nationalities and People's Region

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Author(s): Chewicha K, Azim T

Year: 2013

Ethiopia Ministry of Health Quarterly Health Bulletin. 2013 May; 5(1):49-53.

The Community Health Information System (CHIS) is a family-centered health information system designed for the health extension worker (HEW) to manage and monitor her work in educating households and delivering an integrated package of promotive, preventive, and basic curative health service to families. Initiated in October 2010, the roll-out of CHIS was completed in the Southern Nations, Nationalities and People’s Region (SNNPR) of Ethiopia within 2 years. SNNPR's strong leadership coupled with community mobilization and involvement of partners ensured smooth implementation of CHIS, bringing about a positive change in the management of health services at community level. SNNPR is now starting to harvest the benefits of CHIS. The HEWs are using the system to target pregnant women and children for services, and with the tickler file system they are better equipped to identify defaulters. The managers at woreda, zonal and regional levels are able to access the health post data and using it for planning and monitoring.

The scale-up of CHIS has not been without challenges, including remoteness of some health posts with subsequent difficulty in ensuring regular supervisory visits and continuous support, and persisting parallel reporting systems with subsequent over-burden on HEWs. CHIS has a lot of potential; however, it needs to be properly scaled-up, owned and used for realizing its potential and ensuring its sustainability. This article aims at describing the scale-up of CHIS in SNNPR and documenting achievements and challenges, sharing lessons learned that can be useful in CHIS implementation in other regions.