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.
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.
Country ownership is broadly embraced by the international donor
community as a critical element of international development. In
August 2009, in Ethiopia, the first of a series of regional Health
Information Systems (HIS) forums to engage national leadership in
HIS ownership was convened. National delegates from six East African
countries representing the Ministries of Health, Finance,
Telecommunications, and allied development sectors met to discuss
and develop next steps in the implementation of their national HIS.
Country delegations left the forum with a newly found sense of
collaboration and purpose and with concrete next-step action plans
to be implemented with already committed donor assistance.
The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), funded by
PEPFAR (President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief), collaborated
with other sponsors and donors in the planning and implementation of the East
Africa forum. Organizing sponsors included The World Bank; World
Health Organization; Health Metrics Network; International
Telecommunication Union; East, Central, and Southern Africa Health
Community; and others.
Strengthened HIS operations form the backbone for information and
data exchange and of sustainable development, accountability,
transparency, and evidence-based decision-making. At the forum,
participants develop strategies to strengthen national HIS and
prepare a country-led action plan. Facilitated sessions help country
delegates to reach a common vision and to articulate immediate next
steps to implement their country-owned strategy. The forum builds on
ongoing efforts to strengthen national HIS and accelerate the
process for implementation, including building country institutions’
capacity for HIS.
Based on the success of the East Africa forum, and the high
priority placed on country ownership by many donors, the next forum
is planned for nine countries in the Southern Africa region:
Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa,
Swaziland, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. This forum will be hosted by
the Government of Namibia. Joining their colleagues will be
selected participants from the East Africa forum who will share
their experiences in a South-South learning experience and
For general information, visit the HIS Forum web site at
To become a co-sponsor or if you have questions about this
effort, contact the HIS Forum Secretariat at
myhisforum (at) gmail.com.
Participants: Key policymakers from Angola, Botswana,
Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia, and
Zimbabwe. Representatives from international
partner organizations and forum co-sponsors will also participate.
The seminar will be conducted in English and participation is by
Sponsors: The International Telecommunication Union, the US
Agency for International Development (USAID), PEPFAR
(President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief),
the World Bank, World Health Organization, Health Metrics Network,
East, Central and Southern Africa Health Community.
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.
Should you have any questions regarding the seminar or need any further information, please
Seminar Coordinator for ITU, Mr. Hani Eskandar, ICT
Applications and Cybersecurity Division, Telecommunication
Development Bureau, International
Telecommunication Union, tel. +41 (22) 730-6026 fax +41
(22) 730-5484, e-mail:
cybmail (at) itu.int.
The forum will be conducted in English.
Official Website (for more details and updated documents)