New Health Information System to Improve Health Services in Haiti

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PORT-AU-PRINCE — One of the poorest countries in the Americas and with a health sector upheld mainly by foreign non-governmental organizations, the health system and health services in Haiti have been a long-term struggle. Around 40 percent of the population lacks access to essential health services and only 45 percent of children are fully vaccinated. It’s also proved difficult to retain qualified health professional — there are six health professionals per 10,000 people.

Existing health infrastructure is inadequate in providing sufficient electricity, clean water, sanitation or storage facilities due to the 2010 earthquake and Hurricane Matthew. Health takes up only six percent of government expenditures and budget, and thus the health system is heavily reliant on international aid, which already totals well over $2 billion.

Development Alternative Incorporated

Development Alternative’s Incorporated’s (DAI) new program, Haiti Strategic Health Information System (HIS), has come at a time where such unification of health information is necessary to improve health services in Haiti.

The Strategic Health Information System Program is funded by the U.S Agency for International Development (USAID), and serves to better integrate Haiti’s presently disjointed health information assets, System d’Information Sanitaire Nationale Unique (SISNU).

DAI Global Health’s Vice President and Chief Technology Officer Bobby Jefferson finds that Haiti’s digital plus paper health reporting approach, which varies city to city, “makes Haiti highly vulnerable from a health security standpoint, especially considering its challenging history of devastating earthquakes, hurricanes, and contagious disease.”

Consolidating this information will make the country far more prepared to address its 11 million people’s daily health needs as well as providing better health services in times of crises. DAI hopes to uphold SISNU as the central source for health information, but must factor in its shortcomings of low reporting, low data quality and triangulation and lack of computing ability.

DAI Collaboration With Health Ministry

The DAI is working to further support the health ministry, Ministère de la Santé Publique et de la Population, in drafting eHealth policy, taking care of information and technical gaps and boosting a data-centric national and departmental culture. Working with the health ministry will allow them to standardize data, and setup infrastructure for exchange, privacy, security, interoperability of systems and use specific patient identifiers across systems.

This will include training and skills assessments, putting in ‘Freshdesk’ to support users, and dashboards and a web portal to support data analysis. It will in turn attract private sector partners ,such as internet service providers and those in computer infrastructure and in private hospitals, to establish technical working groups.

Improving the system by which health systems operate will allow the government to better respond to health risks and provide adequate health services in Haiti to aid with clean water and sanitation, nutrition services, vaccines and Haiti’s predisposition to natural disasters.

Zar-Tashiya Khan
Photo: Flickr

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About Author

Zar-Tashiya Khan

Zar-Tashiya is a writer for The Borgen Project who was born in Queens, NY and grew up and lives in Rhode Island. Zar-Tashiya’s academic interests include politics, law and business administration. Zar-Tashiya hopes to attend law school.

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