Delegates From Nine African Countries Discuss Health Information Systems

Nine southern African countries and donors have gathered in Namibia for the second regional leadership Health Information Systems (HIS) meeting to discuss “how recipient countries should take ownership of these systems,” New Era reports (Sasman, 10/26). Participant countries “will work together to develop country specific strategies to strengthen their national HIS and prepare a country-led action plan,” writes the Southern Times. More than 100 delegates representing Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe are expected to attend from ministries of finance, health, science, information and statistics bureaus (Nashuuta, 10/22).    

“John Novak of USAID said with increased donor assistance in the health sector, donor countries are now more than ever target-oriented, and recipient countries thus have to develop information systems that allow for commensurate accountability,” New Era adds, noting that the U.S. is supporting Namibia’s health system through PEPFAR and the Global Health Initiative.

Development partners should focus on strengthening country’s own systems rather than building parallel ones, Namibia’s Minister of Health and Social Services Richard Kamwi said. Deputy Permanent Secretary of the Health Ministry, Norbert Vorster, “said both PEPFAR and the Global Fund require that ‘every cent’ has to be accounted for on a quarterly and annual basis,” and he “said over the last years there has similarly been more pressure from donors for quality data,” according to New Era (10/26).

A press release from the Namibia’s Ministry of Information and Communication states: “Health care policy and services are only as good as the information systems supporting them. Without consistent accessibility, knowledge of what is available, credibility and reliability, and leadership support for a well managed and maintained health information system, the provision of quality health care services around the world will continue to suffer with potentially serious consequences for those in need of these services. Hence, health care can be vastly improved by strengthening the information systems that can support care,” Southern Times reports.

In addition to USAID and PEPFAR, the forum was supported by the World Bank, the Health Metrics Network, International Telecommunication Union, U.K.’s Development Fund for International Development and the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (10/22).

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