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What does it mean for my sister or daughter?

The Health Data Collaborative launches in Kenya

Dr Isabel Maina and Dr Peter Kimuu of the Ministry of Health launch the Health Data Collaborative Roadmap for Kenya.

Kenya is the first African country to officially launch a roadmap to improve and harmonise its health information systems with support from the Health Data Collaborative. Through this initiative, more than 30 global health partners including BMZ and GIZ align to strengthen health data systems worldwide.

In 2013, the Kenya Ministry of Health was faced with a debate over the alarming rate of death among women giving birth: is it being caused by deep-rooted cultural values or could lives be saved with policy interventions?

To find the answer, the ministry turned to its health information system. The data clearly showed that more than a third of women were giving birth at home and that many of them weren’t accessing health facilities because of distance and financial costs.
“We saw that there was a problem with access,” says Nicholas Muraguri, the health ministry’s principal secretary, who is responsible for all health services in Kenya. “So we decided to remove the financial barrier.”

On June 1, 2013, President Uhuru Kenyatta declared maternity services free in all public health facilities in Kenya. The result: the maternal mortality ratio in the country fell from 488 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2009 to the current ratio of 362 deaths per 100,000 births, saving more than 1,500 mothers’ lives every year.

Dr. Muraguri cites this example to demonstrate the power of good data to inform life-saving policy decisions. Kenya has made significant investments in strengthening data collection tools such as household surveys, health management information systems and civil registration and vital statistics.

Still, gaps in the country’s health information system remain, notably in producing high-quality data and in effectively using and analyzing data to tackle priorities such as infectious diseases and rising rates of diabetes, cancer and heart disease. In addition, single disease-focused monitoring and evaluation (M&E) systems developed by global health development partners sometimes operate in isolation instead of talking to each other.

To support the Kenyan health ministry’s leadership in integrating these health data systems into a unified, more efficient framework, global health partners are now working together as a Health Data Collaborative to align and harmonize their financial and technical resources. Kenya is the first country in Africa to officially launch the Health Data Collaborative, joining Bangladesh, which is leading the way in Asia. Partners in attendance included Gavi, GIZ, Global Fund, PEPFAR, UNAIDS, UNICEF, USAID, WHO, and World Bank Group.

During a four-day meeting in Nairobi, various stakeholders signed a joint statement of commitments to support a unified “One M&E Framework.” Below are some highlights:

  • National government will provide leadership and coordination of the One M&E Framework and increase allocation of resources toward it.
  • County governments will apply and use the national standardized M&E tools and improve usage of data for all levels of decision making.
  • Development partners will align assistance and partnerships for health information system investments. They will also transition away from program-specific investments in favor of the One M&E Framework.
  • Faith-based organizations that provide health services will supply data according to national and county requirements and standards.
  • Private sector organizations will foster public-private partnerships to provide expertise in making data systems compatible, data architecture, system administration, data visualization and web technologies.
  • Civil society organizations will promote demand for data use through social accountability mechanisms.

The Ministry of Health has drafted a detailed roadmap to achieve “quick wins” and tackle short-term priorities through technical working groups focused on data analytics, quality of care, a new national health data observatory, civil registration and vital statistics, and informatics. Stakeholders joined technical working groups and committed to reaching these quick wins by November when they will report on their progress during the National Health Congress.

All of these efforts will strengthen Kenya’s health information system, which will support evidence-based policy decisions to improve health outcomes for mothers and daughters, grandparents and grandchildren.

This post was originally published by the Health Data Collaborative. For more information, please visit www.healthdatacollaborative.org.

See also our case study 'A Quiet Revolution: Strengthening the Routine Health Information System in Bangladesh' and our article on support for health information systems in Nepal and Malawi.

May 2016

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