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Problems Measuring Community Health Status at a Local Level: Papua New Guinea's Health Information System | The Communication Initiative Network
Ashwell & Barclay
Source of the information:
The Drum Beat - Communication and Change News and Issues
This article highlights problems in evaluating community interventions or local service performance if reliable village-level data is absent. Published in Rural and Remote Health 10: 1539, it draws on an evaluation of a nationwide donor project community development initiative implemented over 7 years (1998-2004) in Papua New Guinea (PNG). The initiative sought to increase community support for improved health of women and children through attitude and behavioural changes. Activities focused on strengthening and expanding existing village health volunteer programmes and engaging community leaders in health development.
As detailed here, the PNG Department of Health monitors the performance of the health system using a computerised national health information system. These data could be used to monitor health status, health worker performance, and intervention impact. However, national policy dictates that data from aid posts are not included in health centre statistics. (At the village level, aid-post health workers provide basic primary health care and provide information on healthy lifestyle practices to prevent illness.) This means that aid-post data is not forwarded on from health centre to the national level; thus, "there is a failure to show true and accurate health status....The reason given is that aid-post data is considered inaccurate and inappropriate for inclusion in the national system."