Maternal and Child Health

Strong Systems Save Lives: Good Data Improves Maternal and Child Health in Pakistan

How do you strengthen a health system? This is a complex question public health experts are still trying to answer. At JSI, we know that expanding access to good health data — and getting people to use the data — is a critical piece of the puzzle.

In Pakistan, JSI was asked to strengthen the health system of Pakistan’s second-largest province, Sindh, with a focus on improving reproductive, maternal, newborn, and child health (RMNCH) services.

JSI worked with the government of Sindh to expand access to good data and motivate health managers and providers to use the data to make important decisions about financing, service provision, and more.

In the photos below, we’ll “follow the data” from the collection to decision-making stages to understand how good data can help transform — and strengthen — a health system.

Here, a lady health worker writes immunization data on the wall of a house in rural Sindh. This helps her keep track of the community’s immunizations and ensure everyone is up-to-date.

Here, a lady health worker (LHW) supervisor collects data from a LHW. The supervisor will upload this data to a new, online data dashboard, where health managers at the district and provincial levels will use it for planning, budgeting, and troubleshooting.

The new dashboard also allows health managers to monitor how well each individual LHW is performing her duties. In fact, when LHW data was first uploaded to the dashboard, managers realized many LHWs did not have enough (or any) of the commodities they need to do their jobs. This is now being rectified and LHW performance is improving accordingly.

This is the homepage of the new online dashboard, where, at the click of a mouse, health managers and providers can access district data (DHIS2), management information systems for vertical programs (e.g., malaria, family planning, EPI), and many health sector surveys.

JSI provided technical assistance to develop the online dashboard and provided training for district and provincial health teams on how to use data for planning, budgeting, and troubleshooting. Here, Dr. Akhlaque Khan and his team at the Sindh Director General Health Services office are using the dashboard to retrieve data for planning.

Health managers at district level are also using data to analyze their district-level successes and challenges. After training and technical assistance from JSI, districts are now able to resolve 80 percent of these challenges on their own.

The online dashboard has helped make data transparent and actionable in Sindh Province. In just two years, data accuracy improved from 64 to 79 percent and, even more impressive, Sindh health budgets grew by 137 percent as managers learned to use data to support their requests for more funding.

Good things happen when health managers not only have access to good data, but also use that data to make good decisions.

The JSI-implemented Health Systems Strengthening (HSS) Component of USAID’s Maternal and Child Health Program ran from 2013 to 2017 in Pakistan. Photos by Veronique de Viguerie, Verbatim for JSI. Read the full story.

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