Implementation of District Health Management Information System Policy in Gauteng Province
For a conference on “Partnering for Success: How M&E Can Strengthen Partnerships for Sustainable Development,” MEASURE Evaluation-Strategic Information for South Africa authors Anzél Schönfeldt and Nosipho Mbanjwa, with Nomsa Makhubele, Acting Director, Information Management, Gauteng Province Department of Health, will present their paper, “Partnering for Success: Implementation of District Health Management Information System (DHMIS) Policy in Gauteng Province” at the conference in Wageningen, The Netherlands, March 17-18.
Background: In line with the National Health Act (Act 61 of 2003), the National Department of Health (NDOH) of South Africa has the constitutional mandate to facilitate and coordinate establishment, implementation and maintenance of comprehensive health information systems across national, provincial, and local levels. In July 2011, the Department approved the District Health Management Information Systems (DHMIS) Policy. This presentation will examine the role of partnerships in disseminating and embedding national policy and procedures within the public data management system.
Description: The DHMIS is a system that derives a combination of health statistics mainly from routine information systems used in the public sector to monitor health service delivery at sub-district, district, provincial, and national levels. Standard operating procedures (SOPs) were developed for all levels in the public health care system for guiding implementation of the policy. To determine the influence of the policy trainings on improving effective monitoring of health service delivery, the USAID- and PEPFAR South Africa-funded MEASURE Evaluation Strategic Information for South Africa (MEval-SIFSA) Project collaborated with the Gauteng Province Department of Health (GDOH) health information management (HIM) directorate in distributing approximately 600 SOPs booklets and 2,463 facility SOP posters to GDOH health care officials at all relevant levels. MEval-SIFSA then conducted DHMIS policy trainings across all five districts in the province. The provincial HIM directorate coordinated the introduction of MEval-SIFSA to district information officers (DIOs) and monitoring and evaluation (M&E) managers at the district level to facilitate training processes.
Lessons Learned: The feedback obtained from numerous post-training consultation meetings provided evidence that officials in all five districts in the province were effectively capacitated on the DHMIS policy, SOPs, and facility SOP posters. Subsequent to the training, district managers and sub-district managers further cascaded trainings to the facility level. As a result, it has been reported that most facilities are now effectively conducting weekly assessments and monthly meetings in which data issues are discussed in detail. Health information committees were also developed to validate and verify the data before submitting data to the next level.
Conclusion: Success in partnership was mainly accredited to the excellent leadership of the GDOH management. Good support from DIOs and M&E officials was crucial during the entire training process. One key aspect in ensuring a successful partnership is understanding of the client’s needs and letting the client take full ownership and leadership of the process.