Improving Quality of Malaria Data Supports Better Decision Making in the Health Sector

Jun 2018
A community health center in Segou, Mali. Photo credit: Rachel Hay, courtesy of Photoshare.

Since 2009, the USAID-supported MEASURE Evaluation Project has been working with Mali’s National Malaria Control Program (NMCP) in supporting the Routine Malaria Information System (RMIS). In some regions however, insufficient staff training, equipment, and Internet connectivity continue to be a problem, leading to poorer than expected data quality which limits the program’s ability to target services most effectively. The issue of data quality is a key priority for the Ministry of Health as the Planning and Statistics Unit (Cellule de Planification et de la Statistique) and the National Health Directorate (Direction Nationale de la Santé) begin a national roll-out of the RMIS on the DHIS-2 platform.

Over the years, MEASURE Evaluation has supported various rounds of data quality assessments of the malaria routine data using the Routine Data Quality Assessments (RDQA) tool. The most recent one, conducted in 2016 in Segou involved the NMCP in the data collection and analysis process. Training for the assessment began with a one-day workshop in Segou that introduced the RDQA tool to national and subnational staff. MEASURE Evaluation subsequently supported those staff to conduct RDQAs in 32 health facilities in the region. The RDQAs gathered valuable information about what was working well, where, and which aspects of RMIS needed improvement.

Following the RDQA assessment in Segou, other members of the NMCP’s monitoring and evaluation (M&E) team were trained by MEASURE Evaluation on how to use the tool.

Dr. Fomba, NMCP has championed the use of data quality tools developed by MEASURE Evaluation.
Dr. Seydou Fomba, NMCP (left) has championed the use of data quality tools developed by MEASURE Evaluation. Photo credit: MEASURE Evaluation.

I found the tool useful and valuable for assessing RMIS data, and appropriate for use in other regions," said Dr. Seydou Fomba, with the Division of Prevention and Case Management under the NMCP. “It was exactly what I needed for conducting assessments and ensuring consistency of data.”

After the RDQAs were completed, Dr. Fomba advocated for NMCP decision makers to use the tool in other health facilities supported by implementing partners, such as the Global Fund. The NMCP also requested technical support from MEASURE Evaluation to implement additional RDQAs, and is providing feedback to further customize the RDQA tool.

By normalizing and institutionalizing data quality reviews, we expect that ongoing efforts to assess data quality will be successful, leading to measurable improvements in quality indicators such as timeliness and completeness,” says Diadier Diallo, MEASURE Evaluation senior malaria monitoring and evaluation advisor in Mali. “As confidence in the data quality increases among personnel in the health sector, and with support from our activities in the upcoming year to foster a culture of data use among decision makers at all levels, we expect the use of data for decision making to increase.”

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