Analytical summary - Health information, research, evidence and knowledge
Enabling policies and strategies exist to support the information society. In Uganda, a national information and communication technology policy framework has been in place since 2002. Similarly, mechanisms exist that provide access to health information for lay users as an empowerment strategy to demand high-quality care. Formal capacity-building in information and communication technology in educational institutions at all levels sustainably complements this strategy.
A sector-wide approach adopted in the Health Sector Strategic Plan II 2005/06–2009/10 (HSSP II) incorporates mechanisms that emphasize better use of resources and a common reporting framework for improved planning and accountability. The Health Sector Strategic and Investment Plan Monitoring and Evaluation Plan for 2010/11–2014/2015 aims at establishing a system that is robust, comprehensive, fully integrated, harmonized and well coordinated to guide monitoring of the implementation of the Health Sector Strategic and Investment Plan and evaluate its impact.
All partners are expected to buy into the Monitoring & Evaluation Plan, which is envisaged to be the basis for improving the quality of routine information systems as well as institutionalizing mechanisms and tools for measuring quality of both facility and community-based services. To ease compilation and storage, all data constituting the health information subsystems are required to be collected using the standard tools developed and provided by the Ministry of Health. A recent data quality analysis report by WHO confirms that, overall, the data produced at health facilities remains sufficiently valid.
Retrieval of existing global health information is facilitated by several search engines but curtailed by the limited access to high-speed Internet services. However, there is increasing availability of information and communication technologies, particularly of the Internet and mobile telephony, and this has improved the prospect of narrowing the knowledge gap in the country. Several training institutions are able to access electronic journals through the HINARI Access to Research in Health Programme. This is complemented by electronic information supplied by a number of individual publishers and services such as BMJ Journals, the Free Medical Journals, HighWire, etc.
Owing to limited and inadequate funding, the shortage of human resources and inadequate logistics, research in Uganda has mainly been donor driven, with well over 90% of health research funding being attributed to external sources. Two good practices in the direction of improving information sharing in the sector are the requirement for research to be coordinated by one body and for the provision of a centralized electronic database. The Uganda National Health Research Organisation is mandated to coordinate research in the country.
The national health information system has provided standardized formats for health data collection, which enable electronic compilation, storage and retrieval. The standardization of health information data collection formats and the deliberate strategy to promote buy-in from all users will go a long way in integrating the health information system at all levels of the health system . Although the current system is largely paper based, computerization of data through use of District Health Information Software 2 (DHIS 2), will improve the completeness and timeliness of data submitted.