Health information and evidence should play a major role in directing resource flows and health programmes. This requires establishing and maintaining a strong system to generate the information, evidence and knowledge required to analyse, understand and operate health systems in an efficient manner.
WHO supports countries in the Region in the development, sharing and improved use of evidence for policy- and decision-making:
- Produce and regularly update a statistical atlas of the Region;
- Produce and regularly update statistical factsheets of all countries in the Region;
- Produce reports on the health situation in the African Region;
- Support the production of new analytical health profiles and the continuous improvement of existing profiles;
- Promote and facilitate the use of profiles for national policy and planning;
- Monitor progress on MDGs and other internationally agreed goals and targets.
eHealth can play a significant role in strengthening national health systems and services, reducing costs addition in providing information and evidence for policy and decision making.
In recent years, the field of eHealth has emerged in the Region, thanks to the rapid rise in technology use , including mobile phones. Africa is now projected to have more mobile phones in the next few years than its current population.
Key challenges to wide-scale implementation of eHealth solutions in the region include:
• lack of ICT infrastructure on which to build the national health information infrastructure;
• attracting private sector investment;
• developing appropriate governance structures and mechanisms to ensure that accountability, transparency and effective leadership are in place;
• encouraging the development and use of high-priority eHealth solutions;
• developing the requisite human resources; and supporting secure electronic information exchange across a country’s geographical and health-sector boundaries.
WHO supports the leveraging of information technologies (IT) to strengthen health systems. This is done through supporting:
• Country review of eHealth situation and regulatory frameworks;
• Development and implementation of national policies and strategies on eHealth;
• Development of norms and standards on interoperability;
• Supporting countries to leverage IT to improve the availability and use of information.
Knowledge management is a set of principles, tools and practices that enable people to create knowledge, share and apply what they know in order to create value and improve efficiency and effectiveness, strengthen health systems and improve health outcomes. It is a key factor in organizational performance and competitiveness.
Knowledge management can facilitate information dissemination and sharing, capacity building, education and distance learning, research support and documentation. It can also promote and support communities of practice and support diseases and endemic surveillance and response.
WHO supports countries and the WHO Regional Office for Africa to improve knowledge sharing and translation through
- strengthening the leveraging of IT for improved knowledge sharing and translation
- strengthening the African Health Monitor as a multilingual peer-reviewed periodical.
Strengthening the leveraging of IT for improved knowledge sharing and translation by:
- Supporting countries to establish national health observatories and knowledge platforms to improve knowledge sharing and translation;
- Supporting efforts to improve the availability and quality of Regional Office publications;
- Supporting the coordination of the designation and re-designation of WHO Collaborating Centres;
- Supporting efforts at the Regional Office to improve accessibility, storage and sharing of information and evidence;
- Supporting the improvement of quality of content, user-friendliness, display and visibility to internet search engines of the Regional Office website, the Observatory and the AHO blog.
Strengthening the African Health Monitor as a multilingual peer-reviewed periodical by
- Fostering the submission of manuscripts to the African Health Monitor;
- Increasing the submission of French and Portuguese manuscript;
- Strengthening the peer-review process for better relevance and quality articles;
- Strengthening the engagement of the Core Group and Editorial Committee;
- Improving overall quality and timeliness of production of the Monitor;
- Ensuring wider access by policy and decision makers to the Monitor.
A national health information system is a set of interrelated components and procedures organised to generate health information and intelligence that is used to monitor the health status and services of a nation and to improve public health.
Health information systems represent a key component of national health systems. However, the capabilities for leveraging information for improved health are limited and unevenly distributed in the African Region. Improving such capabilities is a key building block for success of health systems.
WHO supports strengthening national health information systems through the development of national health observatories (NHOs) in Member States. Support includes:
- Strengthening national health information systems:
- Support the development of national policies and strategies;
- Support the strengthening of data sources, collection and management;
- Support civil registration and vital statistics systems;
- Support the monitoring and evaluation of health systems strengthening;
- Developing national health observatories:
- Support the development of a coordinating unit within the ministry of health;
- Support the development and update of health integrated databases;
- Support the development and update of health analytical district profiles;
- Develop and update guidelines for the establishment of NHOs.
The African Health Observatory (AHO) is a repository of the best information available on health in the African Region. It is the core of a reinforced regional health information system, which interacts with national health observatories in Member States, thus contributing to monitoring and evaluation, data collection and analysis at the national level. The AHO consists of:
- Internet portal;
- Data-statistics platform;
- Web-based collaborative space for the production and updating of comprehensive analytical country health profiles;
- Repository of key publications, including the quarterly African Health Monitor ;
- Platform for networking.
WHO supports strengthening the AHO platform, including its networking component, to ensure easy access to the best available information and evidence, provide support for collaborative networks and communities of practice and ensure harmonization with NHOs and the Global Health Observatory. It also supports strengthening the functionality of AHO’s integrated health database system as an interactive online database of all the best available and authoritative data and health information, including a data dictionary (a compendium of indicators and metadata) and related reference publications.
Work is on-going in developing its contents: the analytical country profiles are being expanded to serve as key evidence in the monitoring and evaluation of national policies and plans, and collaboration with ministries in the Region aims to review and clear all data published, and to publish improved, up-to-date and more complete data.
From the public health point of view, the objective of disaster preparedness and response, the major theme of this issue of the Monitor, is to reduce the health consequences of public health emergencies, natural disasters and conflict and minimize their social and economic impact.
With over 730 million inhabitants in 46 countries, the African Region accounts for about one seventh of the world’s population. This statistical atlas provides the health status and trends in the countries of the African Region, the various components of their health systems, coverage and access levels for specific programmes and services, and the broader determinants of health in the Region, and the progress made on reaching the Millennium Development Goals.
Each indicator is described, as appropriate, in terms of place (WHO regions and countries in the African Region), person (age and sex) and time (various years) using a bar graph. The aim is to give a comprehensive overview of the health situation in the African Region and its 46 Member States.
The main source for the data is WHO-AFRO’s integrated database, based on the World Health Statistics 2012. Other UN agency databases have been used when necessary. All the data and figures in this atlas can be accessed through the African Health Observatory
Full Report [pdf: 3.76 MB]
The WHO Regional Office for Africa established the African Health Observatory in 2010 and is now calling for an expert consultation to review the progress of AHO, with an emphasis on the operational aspect of the AHO, and agree on concrete further steps to interface with countries.
Health is now recognized as a key aspect of human and economic development, and health financing as a major function of a health system, whose objectives are to make funding available and ensure that all have access to effective health services. The aim of developing health financing systems which support the promotion of universal health coverage in Africa is explored via the case studies, analyses and lessons learned presented.