Strengthening Evidence-Based Health Management in South Africa
MEASURE Evaluation Strategic Information for South Africa (MEval–SIFSA), a PEPFAR initiative funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), launched the Evidence-Based Health Management (EBHM) workshop in UThungulu District, KwaZulu Natal Province in February 2014.
The workshop took place in response to a request by Mrs. Nokuthula Ngubane, District Health Services Deputy Manager Planning.
“The greatest challenge is that clinicians are only exposed to data, and are required to use information only when they get to management positions,” said Mrs. Ngubane. “Often there are gaps in the data we receive. When we audit, that is when people say, ‘We did not know the importance of data.’”
MEval-SIFSA conducted the 5-day EBHM course at the UThungulu Health District Office in Empangeni for producers and users of information for decision making. The course content included:
- Strengthening systems to improve health status of the population
- Routine health information management
- Data quality
- Use of information for evidence-based health management
Thirty participants completed the course, acquiring knowledge and understanding of a number of key concepts in evidence-based management. Participants, from health facility to district-level, worked in a variety of health areas, and included program managers, health facility managers, M&E managers, clinicians and other allied healthcare professionals.
Some participants indicated the training helped them recognize that their role extends beyond producing data and ensuring it is of good quality. The participants can also use information to assess progress in program implementation, identify successes, and detect gaps requiring attention for further action.
Many participants had previously not identified with the importance of knowing their targets. The workshop emphasized the importance of setting realistic targets for their health facility or to negotiate targets with the district management team.
On the fifth day, participants conducted a self-assessment of UThungulu District utilizing the Facilitated Group Self-Assessment on Data Demand, Data Quality, and Information Use Tool, collated by MEval-SIFSA. Participants were upfront in being critical of their capacity and practices. They regarded the assessment of UThungulu District as “an eye opener,” and the tool as a good listing of the various practices they should improve, including collaboration between those who produce data and those who use information.