Effective health information system crucial to quality healthcare-Minister

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The Nigerian Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, has emphasised the need for a functional Health Information System (HIS), to assist policymakers to make the right decisions.

Ehanire, at a two-day National Dissemination Workshop of the Revised National Health Management Information System Tools, version 2019, on Monday in Abuja, said that government needed the correct data to make appropriate policies.

The workshop was organised by the Department of Health Planning, Research and Statistics of the ministry.

The department has the mandate to ensure the availability of timely and reliable data for evidence-based decision making in the health sector.

Its activities have led to the establishment of the National Health Management Information System (NHMIS).

The minister stated that HIS was one of the six key building blocks of healthcare system designed for the collection, analysis, use and dissemination of health-related data, towards improving health outcomes.

He said that HIS was important in providing guidance for decision making on the other five blocks.

According to him, functioning health information system should produce the right information at the right time.

The minister said that the right data would enable policymakers, managers and service providers to make accurate, timely evidence-based decisions that would lead to sustainable health outcomes at all levels of care.

“The system is not only for the planning, monitoring, and evaluation of health care service activities, but also for day-to-day patient management. It also assists health education, resource allocation, disease prioritisation and decision making,” he said.

Ehanire said that in spite of the benefit of data, poor data quality and limited use of information had remained a major problem in the healthcare delivery chain.

“Some health care providers report routine health data with limited understanding of the tools; their use of the tools for decision making at lower levels is also uncertain,” he said.

The minister explained that there was no routine feedback on reports sent to the next reporting level, noting that funding for health management information system and related monitoring and evaluation activities had also been largely
donor-dependent.

He stated that such donor was neither sustainable nor desirable.

Ehanire said that the National Council on Health in 1996 and the 2014 NHMIS policy recommended government budget lines for NHMIS activities at all levels, but lamented that it had not been optimally implemented.

Dr Yahaya Muhammed, Commissioner for Health, who spoke on behalf of his colleagues in the 36 states, said that data was very necessary in achieving Universal Health Coverage (UHC).

Muhammed said that the move towards analyzing proper data in the health sector would help the country to revamp its health sector.

“The move will be a key component of strategic information systems targeted at monitoring, evaluation and surveillance data used to answer key questions about states of the epidemic across the country. The data will also assist the processes of prevention, care and treatment services. It is also key to the effectiveness of these services and the capacity needed to improve programmes, meet planning and reporting requirements, and reach goals for impacting the epidemic and other challenges in the health sector,” he said.

On his part, Dr. Emmanuel Abatta, head of NMHIS in the ministry, said that government was working hard to ensure the availability of timely, reliable data for evidence-based decision making in the health sector.

Abatta said that the NHMIS was a data collection system specifically designed to support planning, management and decision making in health facilities and organisations in the country.

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