Managing Data with DHIS2: Improving Health Commodities Reporting and Decision Making in Kenya

Dr. Andrew Nyandigisi from the Malaria Control Unit discusses lessons learned in the implementation of DHIS2 with workshop participants. {Photo credit: Yvonne Otieno/MSH.}Photo credit: Yvonne Otieno/MSH.

An effective reporting system for health commodities is critical to ensure accountability, enable informed decision making, and provide timely access to information.

Using DHIS2 to Manage Data for Malaria Commodities

To help improve reporting in Kenya, the Ministry of Health in 2010 approved the use of the District Health Information System (DHIS2) to report on malaria commodities at the sub-national level. DHIS2 is a free and open-source computer software typically used to monitor health indicators for a national health system. Collecting and analyzing data helps to improve health outcomes by enabling evidence-informed decision making, rather than basing decisions on intuition or broad estimates. DHIS2 supports different facets of the information cycle including data collection, quality assurance, dissemination, reporting, and analysis.

With support from the US Agency for International Development (USAID)-funded Health Commodities and Services Management (HCSM) program, led by MSH and partners, Kenya’s Malaria Control Unit transitioned its reporting system to DHIS2 in October 2012. Use of DHIS2 improved reporting rates from about 45 percent to 70 percent in the months after its implementation (Figure 1).

[Figure 1: Reporting rate for malaria commodities across all health facilities in Kenya, June 2012-January 2013.]Figure 1: Reporting rate for malaria commodities across all health facilities in Kenya, June 2012-January 2013.

Scale-up of DHIS2 to other Health Areas, Counties

Building on the experience of using DHIS2 for malaria reporting, HCSM is working with 13 county governments to promote reporting through DHIS2 for family planning, HIV, nutrition, and laboratory commodities. As of April 30, 2014, MSH/HCSM had conducted orientation on DHIS2 in 9 of the 13 focus counties.

Following the introduction of DHIS2 for commodity reporting in these nine target counties, USAID supported an orientation workshop in early May for service delivery partners to share lessons learned and to plan rollout to other counties. The Health Information Systems unit of the Ministry of Health and staff from the HIV, TB, malaria, reproductive health and family programs participated in the workshop, facilitated by USAID and MSH/HCSM staff.

Participants heard how an effective health information solution contributed to Kenya's standing with The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria going from a C to an A2 rating: Using DHIS2 made it possible and easy for the country to track the reporting and non-reporting health facilities. Through better tracking of commodities with DHIS2, donor confidence in the malaria program was restored and additional funding was secured. 

Workshop participants agreed to continue rollout of DHIS2 for commodity reporting to additional counties.

Effective health information solutions, better health system

Effective health information solutions like DHIS2 can help improve accountability across the health system. Scale up of DHIS2 can further strengthen the management and use of health commodities and improve the use of data for decision making at all levels of the health system.