Evaluation of existing District Health Management Information Systems A case study of the District Health Systems in Kenya
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Introduction: This paper discusses some of the issues and challenges of implementing appropriate and coordinated District Health Management Information System (DHMIS) in environments dependent on external support especially when insufficient attention has been given to the sustainability of systems. It also discusses fundamental issues which affect the usability of DHMIS to support District Health System (DHS), including meeting user needs and user education in the use of information for management;and the need for integration of data from all health-providing and related organizations in the district. Methods: This descriptive cross-sectional study was carried out in three DHSs in Kenya. Data was collected through use of questionnaires, focus group discussions and review ofrelevantliterature, reports and operational manuals ofthe studied DHMISs. Results: Key personnel at the DHS level were not involved in the development and implementation of the established systems. The DHMISs were fragmented to the extent that their information products were bypassing the very levels they were created to serve. None of the DHMISs was computerized. Key resources for DHMIS operation were inadequate. The adequacy of personnel was 47%, working space 40%, storage space 34%, stationery 20%, 73% of DHMIS staff were not trained, management support was 13%. Information produced was 30% accurate, 19% complete, 26% timely, 72% relevant;the level of confidentiality and use of information at the point of collection stood at 32% and 22% respectively and information security at 48%. Basic DHMIS equipment for information processing was not available. This inhibited effective and efficient provision of information services. Conclusions: An effective DHMIS is essential for DHS planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation activities. Without accurate, timely, relevant and complete information the existing information systems are not capable of facilitating the DHS managers in their day-today operational management. The existing DHMISs were found not supportive of the DHS managers’ strategic and operational managementfunctions. Consequently DHMISs were found to be plagued by numerous designs, operational, resources and managerial problems. There is an urgent need to explore the possibilities of computerizing the existing manual systems to take advantage of the potential uses of microcomputers for DHMIS operations within the DHS. Information system designers must also address issues of cooperative partnership in information activities, systems compatibility and sustainability. © 2005 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.
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