Information: the Medicine of Business


A robust routine health information system (HIS) that incorporates the private sector is pivotal to health sector performance and sustainability

The proportion of the health care market constituted by private sector institutions in developing countries is large and increasing.  Performance bottlenecks per The World Bank include the limited access to capital, inappropriate regulation, shortage of skilled workers, and a lack of risk-pooling mechanisms.To engender better health care delivery in countries, the 63rd World Health Assembly passed the Resolution “Strengthening the Capacity of Governments to Constructively Engage with the Private Sector in Providing Essential Health-Care Services” in 2010*.   Many notable initiatives have commenced or accelerated in many parts of the world since then.  Two notable initiatives in the Africa region are the World Bank-led “Health in Africa Initiative” and the multi-partner agenda-setting “regional Conference on Engaging with the Private Sector, 2012”.  However, the attention to the information function, particularly the role of the private sector in developing robust information for health and using it to inform actions to improve health systems strength (HSS) is limited.

Information is the medicine of business!  When business is succeeding, information is what you need to tell what is working. When business is failing, information is what you need to reveal areas requiring intervention.  Information has, however, to be robust for it to reach full potential. When information is one sided, interventions to improve performance are not optimized.  John Snow, Inc., in conjunction with its partners, are leading a worldwide Forum to elaborate the role of the Private Sector in health information development and use for planning, monitoring, and decision-making.  The Forum will discuss two key issues:

  1. the current health data development process and practice in the private sector in developing Countries; the quality of information, and the organizational, human and infrastructural capacity to collect and use this information, and
  2. the presence (or absence) and impacts of types of supportive health systems’policy, legislative and regulatory environment that can facilitate the participation of the private sector in national Health Management Information System (NHMIS).

Insights from the Forum are expected to (1) inform strategies for engaging developing country governments to strengthen information collection and use in the private sector, and (2) sharpen tools and approaches for monitoring and evaluating routine information collection and use in countries.

We look forward to sharing these insights with you from time to time.

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