Furthering Health Achievements Through Information Revolution
Information revolution describes current economic, social and technological trends beyond the Industrial revolution. An information society is a society where the creation, distribution, use, integration and manipulation of information is a significant economic, political, and cultural activity.
Its main driver are digital information communication technologies , which have resulted in an information explosion and are profoundly changing all aspects of social organization, including the economy, education,health, warfare,government and democracy. The People who have the means to partake in this form of society are sometimes called digital citizens. This is one of many dozen labels that have been identified to suggest that humans are entering a new phase of society.
The importance of revolution here is, bringing sustainable change by the community, to the community and for the community. In Ethiopia, there have been remarkable improvements in the health status of Ethiopia over the past two decades during the five rounds of the Health Sector Development Program (HSDP). However, despite the progress achieved so far, there are still challenges to be addressed in improving the health of the population, the quality of care, and the inequalities in access and service.
The Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH) introduced the Health Sector Transformation Plan (HSTP), which focused on addressing quality and equitable distribution of health service delivery for all.One of the four transformation agendas in the current HSTP is the Information Revolution. It refers to the phenomenal advancement in the methods and practice of collecting, analyzing, presenting, and disseminating information that can influence decisions in the process of transforming economic and social sectors.
It entails a radical shift from traditional methods of data utilization to a systematic information management approach powered by a corresponding level of technology. The Information Revolution is not only about changing the techniques of data and information management; it is also about bringing about fundamental cultural and attitudinal change regarding perceived value and practical use of information.
Health Information Systems (HIS) in Ethiopia are run under different authorities. For example, while the routine Health Management Information System (HMIS) is managed primarily by the FMoH, population-based information comes predominantly from the Central Statistical Agency (CSA).
The Ethiopian Public Health Institute (EPHI), universities, and individuals conduct various research activities, the former in line with the priority research needs identified by the FMoH. The fragmentation of the governance of HIS puts in place organizational obstacles in the coordination of digital health investments.
The routine HMIS has been a primary source of information for continuous monitoring of health services in the country. In response to the changes in health system organization, epidemiological patterns (with an increment of non-communicable diseases), service delivery modality, focus on maternal health, and quality of services, as well as international strategies and programs, the FMoH has undertaken revision of the HMIS which is more comprehensive and is strengthening the standardization process through incorporating new initiatives. The electronic system is in place to support this function.
Similarly, a Community Health Information System (CHIS) was introduced to capture basic health and health related information by Health Extension Workers (HEW) at household and individual level. The CHIS collects data on basic demographic statistics and health service delivery and utilization based on the health extension package delivered through the Health Extension Program.
The FMoH, through the HSTP, envisions all of its citizens enjoying equitable and affordable access to all types of health services. The achievement of this vision entails robust monitoring and evaluation (M&E) systems that reveal the status of utilization of health services and desirable healthy practices using key equity lenses.
This is addressed through the establishment of an effective cycle of data gathering, sharing, analysis, understanding, reporting, and application in decision making. This is the process whereby data are transformed into information and knowledge for action.
Multiple data sources will be used to track the HSTP targets. Data sources will include: routine administrative sources, such as the HMIS; household surveys, such as the Demographic Health Survey (DHS) and Expanded Program of Immunizations Coverage Survey (EPI); health facility surveys, such as the Service Provision Assessment Plus (SPA+) and the Service Availability and Readiness Assessment (SARA); disease and behavioral surveillance; civil registration and vital statistics; financial and management information; censuses; and research studies.
The utilization of the newly produced information in policy and strategy formulation and in planning and decision making, especially at the lower levels, is not widely practiced. The national health information system (HIS) is lagging behind in generating information needed to measure and respond to health inequities and their key determinants.
In addition to measuring average or aggregate levels of indicators, it is essential to be able to stratify and dis-aggregate measures according to demographic (age and sex), geographic (urban/rural and regional differences) and socioeconomic (wealth and education) categories, as well as to develop appropriate indicators reflecting equity. Furthermore, data from both the public and the private sectors will be gathered to provide the full picture of the health system performance.
Since many determinants of health are found outside the health system (e.g., education, road infrastructure, water, and sanitation), it is crucial to integrate data sources from other sectors.The rationale for developing this Information Revolution Road map is that all functions of the health system rely on the availability of timely, accurate, and dependable information for decision making.
Revolutionizing the availability, accessibility, quality, and use of health information for decision-making processes, through the appropriate use of information communication technology, can ultimately impact the access, quality, and equity of health care delivery at all levels.