oa South African Health Review - Health management information systems : core health issues

Volume 2006 Number 1
  • ISSN : 1025-1715



This chapter looks at national and international trends in health information systems. The organisation and development of the South African national health information system over the past five years is discussed within this context. A health management information system fundamentally requires the use of health information at policy, health system and health service levels to support management decisions.

The chapter explores the importance of locating a health management information strategy within a conceptual framework that captures the fundamental essence and purpose of HMIS. This framework should guide the identification and implementation of the most appropriate programmes and activities. To obtain such a conceptual framework requires further development work with relevant stakeholders.
South Africa has seen many achievements in the strengthening of its health management information system. However, one of the key challenges remains to get managers at the various levels of the health system to use the available information optimally inorder to inform decision making. These decisions are required around all aspects of the health system including identification of health needs and priorities, health systems and service planning, monitoring progress in implementation and evaluation of the impact of interventions, health policy, programme design and resource allocation.
Monitoring and evaluation is a vital component of any health system but it cannot take place without good quality data. The national Department of Health and National Treasury have been instrumental in leading the institutionalisation of the use of routine health information for planning and monitoring. The Provincial Strategic Plans and the District Health Planning Guidelines are two examples that are briefly discussed.
Finally some recommendations are made to strengthen the health management information system in South Africa.

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