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Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

10-12 August 2009

Managing health information is critical to effectively targeting health interventions, to improving the delivery of health services, and to ensuring both the sustainability and accountability of the health investments of national governments and international donors. The increasing complexity of health care delivery and financing, and the transformative nature of today’s information and communication technologies, present a challenge to national health information systems (HIS) as they strive to collect, analyze, and manage critical information about epidemiological trends and the delivery of health services.

The largest international donors, including the U.S. Government, the World Bank, and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, rely heavily on these systems to access reliable data to make informed program and policy decisions. National HIS, however, are often too disease-specific, fragmented, and delinked from strategic program planning or evaluation to provide health program leaders and managers the information they need to make informed decisions.

In recent years, significant efforts have been deployed toward increasing awareness of the importance of strengthening HIS and toward making substantial additional resources available for this purpose. The establishment of the Health Metrics Network (HMN), for example, and the creation of a Global Fund mechanism devoted to HIS strengthening (rounds 8 and 9) are among the results of these efforts. Furthermore, recent bilateral and multilateral agreements re-affirm the coordination, harmonization, and  integration of HIS tasks and services as required elements of future programming.

The proposed high-level forum – “Country Ownership Strategies: Leadership Forum On Health Information Systems” – seeks to capitalize on such ongoing initiatives by proposing ways of accelerating the development and implementation of country-owned strategies for strengthening HIS. ITU, in collaboration with the US Agency for International Development (USAID), the World Health Organization, the World Bank, and other  implementing partners, will host the three-day forum in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in August 2009.

The aim of the forum will be to strengthen and accelerate country-owned and country-led strategies for managing HIS in six focal countries in East and Southern Africa (Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda). The forum will serve as a venue for sharing approaches and linking countries with potential sources of technical and financial resources for strengthening HIS.

Forum Objectives: The specific objectives of the forum are to:

  • Develop a shared awareness of the best options and strategies for improving coordinated country HIS
  • Establish a common policy agenda and strategy to improve country HIS
  • Support and strengthen country teams as catalysts for promoting country ownership of HIS
  • Provide participants with information and access to financial and technical assistance from national and international partners committed to supporting country-level HIS strengthening

Participants: Key policymakers from Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda. Representatives from international partner organizations and forum co-sponsors will also participate.
Sponsors: The International Telecommunication Union, the US Agency for International Development (USAID), the World Bank, World Health Organization, Health Metrics Network, East, Central and Southern Africa Health Community, and the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Support is provided by USAID-funded projects – Health Systems 20/20, Health Policy Initiative, and Analysis, Information Management and Communications Activity – and Touchstone Consulting Group, Inc.
Forum Agenda: To encourage cross-sector team building and problem-solving skills, the forum will present interactive country-level scenarios of increasing complexity. Country representatives will present where they are in their strategic planning process and the current status of managing HIS in their respective countries. Donors and development partners will provide an overview of available financial and technical resources to support coordinated country-level HIS. Country delegations will be engaged before, during, and after the forum to identify key strengths and weaknesses in their country HIS and to develop strategies for coordination and improvement. At the end of the forum, country delegations will have initiated the development of country action plans.

The seminar will be conducted in English and participation is by invitation only.

Should you have any questions regarding the seminar or need any further information, please contact:

Seminar Coordinator for ITU, Ms. Christine Sund, ICT Applications and Cybersecurity Division, Telecommunication Development Bureau, International Telecommunication Union, tel. +41 (22) 730-5203 fax +41 (22) 730-5484, e-mail: cybmail (at)


Seminar Details

The forum will be conducted in English.

Media access: Journalists are invited to cover the opening and closing sessions, to request interviews with key participants, and to attend a luncheon briefing on the opening day. Registration and badges are required. For those wanting to attend the briefing luncheon, registration must be done in advance.  Should you have any questions regarding the organization of the seminar or need any further information, please contact:

Ms. Junior Bridge,  Communications Director, AIM Activity, tel.: +1 202-661-8604, e-mail: mjrbridge (at)


Background Material

Meeting Details  
Date: 10-12 August 2009
Location: Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

This seminar is hosted by the ITU in collaboration with USAID, WHO, the World Bank, and other  implementing partners.


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Updated : 2009-09-18