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Information systems and health planning are relatively neglected areas of health policy and system research. A rapid search of papers published in Health Policy and Planning identified only 15 out of a total of 726 papers published the last 5 years on the topics of information systems, monitoring and evidence-informed decision-making. Some of these papers focused on the extent to which research evidence is used by policymakers and health system managers, yet collecting high quality routine information and using this information to plan and evaluate health services is critical for health system strengthening.

The [four] articles in this series outline a model for a data-informed platform for health which would bring together routine information from the public and private sectors on health care inputs and processes including service delivery, that could inform decision making, priority setting and planning at the district level, and assist in the evaluation of maternal, newborn and child health (MNCH) services. This is a useful extension to the literature on health information systems because of its focus on how information is used to take decisions at the local level. By keeping data users at the centre of the system, it raises important questions of who collects information and how it flows among levels of the system—all of which influence the incentives to generate valid data on health services, their coverage and key inputs used in delivering them.


Hanson, K; Schellenberg, J; (2016) Commentary-District decision-making to strengthen maternal, newborn and child health services in low-income settings. Health policy and planning, 31 Suppl 2 (suppl 2). ii1-ii2.


Professor Kara Hanson

Professor of Health System Economics

Profile picture of Professor Joanna Schellenberg
Professor Joanna Schellenberg

IDEAS Co-Principal Investigator and Professor

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