Managing District Health Information Systems: the case of Asunafo District

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Strengthening the management capacity of districts to effectively implement and attain then Primary Health Care (PHC) targets requires in turn that the’ strengthen their health information systems to ensure that they provide the necessary information in good time for decision-making, regardless of the type of information technology used. The current study, undertaken in the Asunafo District of the Brong Ahafo Region investigated the problem of the lack of co-operation between sub district supervisors and DHMT members with regards to utilisation of indicators and the inability of the district health information system to produce complete and accurate health data from both external and internal sources which makes analysis difficult for timely utilisation of health information for effective decision making. The main objective of the study was to investigate the management problems of handling health data and the utilisation of heath information for decision -making in the Asunafo District and recommend appropriate solutions to them. The purpose was set to stimulate discussion and assist the District Health Management Team (DHMT) identify the main deficiencies so as to develop and strengthen their health information s stem for the efficient and effective management of district health programmes. This cross—sectional descriptive and exploratory study used both primary and secondary data collected through the use of interview schedules, observation and review (4 returns from study population of respondents within the DHMT and in-charges of all the public health facilities in the sub-districts in the district. The key findings were that the sources of health data gathering were mainly through government facility and that population based data were not collected. One other main finding was the absence of sub-district health teams (SDHTs) which had created a big gap in the management structure. This situation made the DHMT handle raw data directly from lower levels and this affected analysis, decision-making and planning. The study also reveals that the study design was easier to implement, more cost effective and less disruptive to participating health facilities and DHMT members. In view of this, the study recommends that the SDHTs must be set UI) to complete the management chain so as to forestall any by-passing of information to the DHMT level. Other recommendations are that the sources of data collection should be expanded and some data collection forms be redesigned and staff trained in their use to improve the quality of health data collected. The recommendations are aimed at the district to address identified problems within the management structure and its effects on the management of information in the district.
A thesis submitted to the Board of Postgraduate Studies, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, in partial fulfilment of the requirement for the award of the Degree of Master of Science in Health Services Planning and Management, 1999