People-Centered Information Systems: Ethiopia

JSI promotes and strengthens people-centered information systems around the world, including both technology-driven and technology-free approaches that respond to local needs. The Community Health Information System (CHIS) in Ethiopia is a family-centered health information system that uses Family Folders to ensure the Health Extension Worker (HEW) understands the health needs of family and the individual members, supporting quality care. Instead of implementing a technology driven solution, the family folder uses a simple, organized, paper-based approach to managing health information at a local level.

The goal of the Family Folder approach is to create an local information system that meets the needs of both health workers and families. All households in the health post catchment area are enumerated and assigned unique household numbers for their family folder; folders are filed by village and household number for easy record retrieval. The community loved this process of enumeration and felt more connected to the local facility as a result of the Family Folder system.

Based on this successful model, the USAID HMIS Scale-up Project is now providing technical assistance to the Ethiopia Ministry of Health to roll out CHIS in two large regions of Ethiopia, namely Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples’ Region (SNNPR) and Oromia.

Over 10,000 Health Posts in these two regions are now implementing CHIS and health benefits of the system are becoming visible. In one district in SNNPR, implementation resulted in an increased number of pregnant women receiving four ANC visits. In addition, 85% of women receiving at least 4 ANC visits deliver with an HEW, and the region has seen an increase in facility-based deliveries.

The CHIS is a system strengthening approach implemented across the region, and provides a great demonstration of putting usable, accessible information into the hands of health workers and community members who can use it to effectively target and provide valuable health services.

This post is the second in a series about taking a people-centered approach to strengthening routine health information systems, focusing on examples of system strengthening success. Read Part 1

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