Policies and Procedures for All to See

In July 2011, the South Africa National Department of Health (NDOH) approved a policy to standardize implementation of district health management information systems (DHMIS). To make the transition as smooth as possible for health workers across the country, they developed standard operating procedures to guide staff through the policy implementation process.

Sedibeng district information officers and partners receiving DHMIS SOP posters
Sedibeng district information officers and partners receiving DHMIS SOP posters
PRETORIA, South AfricaEnsuring that accurate data is correctly entered into a management information system is critical to making health decisions that impact people’s lives—from the services delivered to the supplies on hand.

When, in July 2011, the South Africa National Department of Health (NDOH) approved a policy to standardize implementation of district health management information systems (DHMIS), they wanted to make the transition as smooth as possible for health workers across the country. They developed standard operating procedures (SOPs) to guide staff at the national, provincial, district, sub-district, and facility levels of the District Health Information System (DHIS) through the policy implementation process.

BookletsThe problem was that the new SOP booklets (pictured at right), often ended up in the facility manager’s files and were not accessible to health facility staff such as receptionists, heath care providers, data capturers, and health information officers who needed it. To help staff remember how to handle data and information on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis, some facilities even copied tables and charts from the SOP booklet and created posters for all to see. However, expensive printing resources made this solution unsustainable.

So the NDOH picked up where the enterprising facilities left off, and began formally producing and publishing posters that outline the roles and responsibilities for each category of health facility staff.

In January 2015, the Gauteng Department of Health, in collaboration with the MEASURE Evaluation Strategic Information for South Africa project, distributed more than 2,400 health facility posters to small clinics and hospitals in Ekurhuleni, Sedibeng, Tshwane, and West Rand districts. The first batch of posters was delivered to Johannesburg district. Facility management was assured that the posters would help staff members adhere to DHMIS policy.

The second district to receive the posters was Tshwane. Health information manager Ms. Smangele Lukhele said that the posters would help facility managers emphasize policy implementation. The district information officer added that, “Having the posters at the facility will help minimize our correction processes. There will be fewer errors since all the data capturers’ and data producers’ roles will be clearly displayed.”

When she received the posters in Sedibeng, district information officer Ms. Puleng Moekena said, “Accessibility to the posters will contribute to improved data quality.” In Ekurhuleni, district information officer Ms. Mmamasedi Semenya welcomed the posters, noting that in addition to the cost of making copies, “It is a tedious exercise to page through the booklets.” In West Rand, health information manager Ms. Matshidiso Motshepe said, “The posters will always be there—unlike the SOP booklet, which is usually difficult to find—and will serve as a good reminder for staff.”

DHMIS posters were distributed to health facilities in South Africa
DHMIS posters were distributed to health facilities in South Africa
Although the SOP posters have been delivered to all the Gauteng province offices, each office must get the posters to the 398 health facilities in the province. So far, all sub-districts and facilities in Ekurhuleni, Sedibeng, and West Rand have received their posters, and Tshwane is not far behind. In the facilities where they hang, these colourful posters outline each staff member’s responsibilities and are displayed for all to see. The expected result will be better use and management of data that will facilitate better health decisions to benefit all. 
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