Partnering for a Cultural Transformation in Information Use: Reflections on DUP’s Journey in Strengthening Ethiopia’s Health Information System
March 13th, 2023 | Viewpoint
March 13th, 2023 | Viewpoint
By Wubshet Denboba, Project Director, DUP/JSI
In February, after six years of working with the Ministry of Health (MOH), regional health bureaus (RHBs), universities, and partners to implement the MOH’s Information Revolution (IR), the Ethiopia Data Use Partnership (DUP) concluded its first phase of implementation. To mark the end of this chapter, on February 22 and 23, DUP hosted a dissemination workshop and exhibition that culminated with a closeout celebration and reception in Addis Ababa.
The event drew dignitaries including the minister and the state minister from the MOH and representatives from the Ministry of Education, RHBs, universities, UN agencies, and partners. It was an opportunity to reflect on DUP’s considerable contributions to the sector and share best practices with local and global stakeholders. As project director, I was fortunate to be able to host and confer with attendees, who noted how well the event was organized and, more importantly, appreciated our significant work to improve the country’s health information system (HIS) performance.
With funds from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and a supplemental grant from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, DUP supported multiple HIS activities that advanced individual and institutional capacities to generate and use high-quality health data for decision-making, improving health outcomes at all levels. DUP played a pivotal role to transform information use by digitizing key HIS priorities such as DHIS2 and developing and implementing essential HIS governance structures and standards. DUP provided tailored support and piloted several data quality and use innovations, including a non-monetary incentive mechanism, in learning health institutions that share best practices with sites across the country to replicate. Furthermore, DUP supported evidence generation, translation, and use to improve health program implementation. Our implementation research—a relatively recent area of study in which researchers and implementers collect and apply lessons— with local universities yielded a body of evidence for the development of various strategic initiatives.
What equally interested event participants was DUP’s implementation approach, which is grounded in innovation and inclusivity to establish consensus and collaboration among stakeholders, maximizing HIS investments. The following principles create our core ethos that guided our conduct and work:
All engagements are based on these principles, which has earned us the respect and trust of the MOH to coordinate HIS resource mobilization and develop innovative solutions such as the Digital Health Innovation and Learning Center, a dedicated learning and workspace hub where digital solutions are conceived, designed, tested, and implemented. At the closeout event, H.E. Dr. Dereje Dugumas, state minister of the MOH, called DUP a “driving force behind Ethiopia’s IR operations,” a testimony to our overall commitment and visible impact in IR implementation. At the end of this first phase, we celebrate what DUP has achieved and the ongoing effect of these accomplishments. Our work over the last six years will lay the ground work for future efforts and continue to improve the use of high-quality data across the country.