Abt Associates: Bold thinkers driving real-world impact
The South Sudan Health Systems Strengthening Project is a USAID-funded project that builds on the Republic of South Sudan’s commitment to strengthening the health system in two states: Central Equatoria and Western Equatoria. The project, known as HSSP, began working in South Sudan in 2012 and, in spite of a conflict breaking out in December 2013, it continues to contribute to improving the health of South Sudanese and fostering an enabling environment for improved health service delivery.
One activity is the implementation of a Health Information System which is having a significant impact in Kajo Keji County. With the new system, the county’s health facilities have greatly improved their capacity to capture routine health service information data, sharing it for decision making through monthly County Health Department bulletins.
“These monthly bulletins greatly enhance health providers’ understanding of their county thus enriching their ability to more effectively and efficiently direct scarce health care resources – even during a period of conflict,” said Wasunna Owino, HSSP Chief of Party. Statistics on consultations for children-under-five with symptoms of malaria (the leading cause of death in South Sudan among this age group); diarrhea and pneumonia are included in the bulletins as is: the incidence of HIV/AIDS; information on antenatal care visits; and figures for health facility deliveries (as opposed to at home with traditional birth attendants).
A recent bulletin from Kajo Keji cited two key measures of improving health:
• During 2013, malaria visits/consultations increased two fold contributing to twice the number of people being diagnosed and treated for malaria in December 2013 than in January of that year. Having data disaggregated by village and facility level allows more granular disease patterns and health outcomes to be tracked.
• Looking at the overall trend of births in a facility attended by a Skilled Birth Attendant (SBA) in the county, there is a marked improvement from the beginning of 2012 to February 2014. The percentage of births attended by an SBA rose from 28 percent in January 2012 to 58% by February 2014. These findings indicate that the value a SBA brings to health outcomes is improving the health-care-seeking behavior of the population (HIS Monthly Bulletin from Kajo Keji County).
• HIV/AIDS indicators were found to be faulty as in some of the health facilities reported more people collecting HIV results than those who were actually tested pointing to errors in data entry, data cleaning and validation and/or manipulation of records to show higher performance. Following the revelations provided by the HIS Monthly Bulletins, the CHD has embarked on a strategy to provide to the data entry clerks, more training and capacity building on HIV data collection tools coupled with close monitoring and supervision through supportive supervision. Timely performance feedback was also seen to be key in the process.
Abt Associates is a mission-driven, global leader in research, evaluation and program implementation in the fields of health, social and environmental policy, and international development. Known for its rigorous approach to solving complex challenges, Abt Associates is regularly ranked as one of the top 20 global research firms and one of the top 40 international development innovators. The company has multiple offices in the U.S. and program offices in more than 40 countries.