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A review of the quality of routine Health Management Information System data in Ethiopia finds a varied picture, but a definite need for more focus on the quality of data collected in the health system.

The paper, authored by analysts from the ORCA project, made use of a WHO data quality review toolkit and compared data from the Health Management Information System to other sources, such as the Demographic and Health Survey. The assessment included a review of indicator definitions, completeness, internal consistency over time and between related indicators, and external consistency compared with other data sources.

Results from this study showed a varied picture with good internal consistency for some data, such as on individual vaccinations, but very low external consistency for data on fully vaccinated children. Maternal health indicators showed increasing coverage over time, whereas indicators on child nutrition, malaria, and tuberculosis were less consistent. The data quality on neonatal mortality was particularly low.

In conclusion, the ORCA authors point to the importance of increased attention on the quality of routine data gathered in the health system. The study authors recommend regular triangulation with other data sources, as well as a review of denominators, a reduction in the complexity of indicators, and the alignment of indicators to international definitions.

Authors

Professor Lars Åke Persson

Professor of Public Health Evaluation

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Dr Della Berhanu

Former IDEAS Ethiopia Country Coordinator and Research Fellow

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Professor Joanna Schellenberg

IDEAS Co-Principal Investigator and Professor