ZIMBABWE on Friday, launched an Integrated Health Situation Room making it the eighth country in Africa to have real time tracking of diseases tracking HIV testing, treatment, maternal mortality, gender based violence, and other health indicators.
By Kudakwashe Pembere
Health situation rooms are software platforms designed to support decision-making on countries’ health responses.
Officiating the launch, Health and Child care Minister Dr Obadiah Moyo said having achieved notable strides against HIV, the country was lagging behind technological innovations that make access and use of data simple.
“This innovation as presented looks very promising to enable us to understand the context in which we are operating. And I can see that it improves transparency, collaboration, data use and data validation through enabling service delivery data, stock monitoring data is available, TB/HIV data, community data and drawing on the prior excellent work of different initiatives.
“We have heard that Zimbabwe has excellent data that can provide information disaggregated by gender and location for many indicators. I would wish to commend my Permanent secretary for this phenomenal achievement,” said the Minister.
The Minister also said, “HIV and Health Situation room aims to help speed up and streamline communications between policy makers and implementers to have Zimbabwe stay on track to reach the national HIV and Health Targets as well as the sustainable development goal. Ladies and gentlemen, the situation room will support government, and civil society institutions alike to effectively and efficiently manage the multi-sectoral AIDS response.”
Speaking at the same event, UNAIDS Deputy Executive Director Dr Shannon Hader said the Situation Room is a tool for better action by policymakers and decision makers.
“The situation room as you heard is about action for impact. It’s about reaching people who need services. It’s about putting resources where they are really needed. And it’s not just about coverage, it’s about impact on lives saved. It’s about controlling an epidemic.
“And with the situation room as it evolves, you will be able to make sure that policymakers and decision makers have accurate data in real time to really say are mothers accessing HIV prevention services and testing earlier in pregnancy to prevent transmission to children. Are children living with HIV, pediatrics getting access to treatment and how many more kids do we have to help.
“Are the medicines needed for the response replenished quickly enough to prevent stock-outs and have large enough stocks to allow dispensing multi-med doses so that folks don’t have to come back and forth to the facilities as frequently?,” she said.
Describing the Situation Room, UNAIDS Senior Strategic Information Advisor Boaz Cheluget said it has four main components.
“These include the community data. This is the data coming from the outreaches. We have the DHI data which is the data from the facilities. We have the LMIS data. This is the data from the logistics management. And then we have the estimates. This is the famous estimates that we normally do every year. All this data are put in a warehouse. An all data warehouse. And then a visualization software has been developed jointly that provides the triangulation of this data. If you want to see what is going on in any facility, using whatever means that you want, the situation room will provide you with that opportunity,” he said.
He said Zimbabwe’s situation room was endorsed by developers to have top notch features.
“It can be virtual as we are going to see or we can put in a physical room. The situation room has been developed in other seven countries that include Kenya, Zambia, Uganda, Cote d’Ivoire, Lesotho, Mozambique and Malawi and we have learnt from them. And we have now the best situation room. Actually, it has been noted by the developers of the situation room that Zimbabwe has the best data.
“Why do we say so? It has the credibility that has not been seen in the other five countries. Number two, the disaggregation of data in Zimbabwe is phenomenal. You can disaggregate by sex. You can disaggregate by location, by facility. It’s almost you can see everyone. And therefore it is very easy to develop actions and address the challenges,” said Mr Cheluget.
The situation room can be accessed through the internet by the policymakers and decision makers.
It was mooted in 2017 and was completed this week. The situation room is manned by the Ministry of Health.
Global Fund Against AIDS, TB and Malaria, Swedish International Development Agency, the Centre for Disease Control were among the donors and partners for the establishment of this Health Situation Room.