Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
- I'm in love with DHIS2, said Domingos Francisco Gaspar from the Ministry of Health in Angola.
- I am about to fall in love, said Said Iftekhar Sadaat from the Ministry of Health in Afghanistan.
They were among the 70 participants from 16 countries at an academy for implementers of the health information system DHIS2 in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania in December.
DHIS2 is the central health data system developed and supported by HISP (The Health Information Systems Programme) at the Department of Informatics at University of Oslo (UiO).
It started out as a PhD project in South-Africa in 1994. The goal was to strengthen data use and health management at the district level in South Africa, and many iterations later the software has developed into a modern, web based platform tailored to work in challenging, low resource contexts. DHIS2 is supplier-independent, easily expandable with local customatizations, and makes great use of the rapidly expanding mobile Internet and mobile phone market in the Global South. Since the first online implementation in Kenya in 2012, it has quickly gained popularity in numerous countries, especially in Africa and Asia, where fixed-network telephony and broadband Internet are poorly distributed.
District Health Information Softwareis a health information system based on open source code, mobile network and mobile devices.
- It began in 2011.
- The objective is education and training in use and development of DHIS2.
- Several gatherings throughout the year, with participants from an ever-growing number of countries that use the system.
- The participants get sertification in a number of modules in DHIS2.
- Read more about DHIS2 Academy here, where fixed-network telephony and broadband Internet are poorly distributed.
DHIS2 is currently being used in more than 60 countries. And even more are swarming to, with Angola and Afghanistan as the newest members of the HISP family.
Five year old academy
- Five years ago we saw that there was a need for educating technical staff at the health authorities, consultants, non-governmental organizations and other implementers of the system, says professor Kristin Braa, who is HISP's project manager at UiO.
So they started the regional DHIS2 academies, where the implementers are trained in adapting the system for national use. That means they can adjust local "user-cases" to the system.
So far more than 2600 persons have attended these academies.
– It's fun that the academies have become so popular. In addition to the training, we see that the participants from different countries learn a lot by meeting this way, says Braa.
So far there have been nearly 50 academies, and Braa confirms that another 15 to 20 are planned this year (2017) in different countries.
Dean's blog post on DHIS2: The will to want begets the ability to be able
She is also proud that the secretary general Mboki M. Ulisbisya at Tanzania Ministry of Health, Community Development, gender, Elderly and Children took time to check in on the last day of the academy to award the participants.
The health authorities in Tanzania have used the Norwegian system for a long time. Ulisbisya is also among the biggest DHIS2 enthusiasts.
– There are a lot of challenges concerning getting access to good quality health data, especially out in the regions. Introducing DHIS locally provides a much better basis for taking the right decisions, he said.
He also praised the collaboration with the project's team at UiO and the University of Dar es Salaam - and among the participating countries.
Afghanistan with a first draft
Afghanistan is working hard to put in order a plan for the Norwegian system the coming spring. Eight representatives from the Afhan Ministry of Health were present at the academy in Dar es Salaam.
Said Iftekhar Sadaat told the plenary assembly that they are very excited about what they have seen from DHIS2 so far, but he also pinpointed a few challenges.
Their concern is adapting to the local language and the fact that it is read from right to left. Additionally there is a problem with technology to support the Afghan Solar Hijiri calendar.
– We constantly run into challenges like these. And we are working to solve them as quickly as we can without it being at the expense of the DHIS2 core. We acknowledge that different cultures and countries have another calendar system than ours, and that is something we are really working on, says Braa, indicating that the HISP project will scarcely run out of research tasks shortly.
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