Assessing utilization of the health management information system in Uganda
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The purpose of the study was to assess the utilisation of the Health Management Information System in Uganda. This was based on four objectives namely: a) to establish how the HMIS is utilized in the health sector in Uganda; b) to establish the relevance of utilisation of HMIS information by the health practitioners in Uganda; c) to identify the challenges to utilisation of the HMIS in the health sector in Uganda and d) to propose measures for improving the utilisation of the HMIS in Uganda. Users of HMIS in Ugandan four districts of Lira, Kiboga, Hoima and Kumi targeted by the study were Development partners’ representatives; Commissioners; Assistant Commissioners; Programme Managers; Health Planners; Resource Centre staff; Chief Administrative Officers; District Planners; District Health Officers; District HMIS focal persons; Officers in charge of HSDs; Sub-county chiefs/ LC III chairpersons and officers in charge of health facilities. The study adopted a cross-sectional research design using both qualitative and quantitative approaches. The study population comprised of 207 respondents namely; Commissioners, Programme Managers, Health Planners and Resource Centre staff at Ministry of Health and local government levels. A sample of 136 participants was selected out of a population of 207 by convenient/purposive method. Data was collected by use of Focus Group Discussions (FDGs), self- administered questionnaires and face to face interviews by using FDG guide, Interview guide and questionnaires. Analysis of quantitative data was done by use of Word Excel and SSPS Programmes after having coded the questionnaires and entered the data into the Programmes. The qualitative data was analysed by first grouping responses from interview guides and FDGs guide into appropriate subjects or themes and tallying them. It was found that although the HMIS information provided was relevant to health practitioners, it’s utilisation by them was still low. It was also established that HMIS data was used for planning, monitoring and evaluation of health programmes although challenges like poor quality of HMIS data, late submission of HMIS reports, HMIS not capturing data from the private health providers and at community level, inadequate segregation of HMIS data, and, inadequate funding for HMIS by either donors or government were faced. Suggestions for strengthening the utilisation of HMIS information were: developing policies concerning its management and administration by involving even the staff and the grassroots; carrying out regular data validation and verification exercises; development of a curriculum on HMIS for use in training health and health-related professionals; provision of better storage facilities and computerisation of the system and improvement in monitoring and evaluating of the system. HMIS’ utilisation differs from district to district and within the Ministry of Health departments. Pertinent remedial suggestions for improvement for utilisation include (i) the removal of some data variables which were found not to be relevant and (ii simplifying variables that are captured in the current HMIS. HMIS utilisation is still low because it is affected by many factors, ranging from the point of data collection, analysis, dissemination, utilisation to storage for future use. The major factors affecting its performances are: (i) inconsistent/inaccurate data and (ii) lack of a central health information system in the district. The relevance of its information is evidenced by the data it generates and reports made which depend on its information, and, completion of tasks assigned to HMIS staff at both the districts and the MoH departments.