Developing an information-based culture: HMIS and PATHS 2003-2008. PATHS1 Nigeria

Authors: Health Partners International
Document Type: Policy and technical briefs
Publication Date: 2008

This technical brief describes PATHS involvement in strengthening the National Health Management Information System (NHMIS). In 2003, an assessment revealed that the NHMIS was functioning poorly. Key problems included collecting too many dataelements; the lack of suitable indicators; and a non-functioning software package. As a result, both the quantity and quality of data was poor, and information was not used by managers. Starting in Benue in 2003, PATHS provided support in all states and at federal level. By 2007, the software system introduced (the District Health Information System – DHIS) was adopted nationally and the local consultant team was contracted to roll out the system across the country. This brief describes this story.

Key steps which are necessary for strengthening systems and building capacity

Systems Development:

  1. Development of systems and structures to handle data, based on the information cycle (e.g. registers and tools for collecting data, data flow policy to manage flows of data within the health system).
  2. Establishment of monitoring systems and structures to manage the information system itself (e.g. systems to ensure the quality of the data produced)

Capacity Development: 

  1. In-service training of local staff from HMIS, management and “vertical” programs to handle data and use information for local management
  2. Resurrection of a number of work groups to manage the process from SMOH, local government and the faithbased sector
  3. Training of technical cadres at the state HMIS unit and from local government (M&E officers) to manage the HMIS and ensure sustainability
  4. Institutionalisation of feedback to data collectors and provision of regular programme based reports to State and Federal Ministries of Health


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Tags: Nigeria, Service delivery, Scaling up, Quality improvement, Institutional strengthening, Health systems, Monitoring and evaluation, Health information, Health management, PATHS, Quality of care, Health Management Information System, HMIS,