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Improving data use in Malawi by upgrading the national health information software—and training key staff on its use

Malawi’s Ministry of Health (MOH) was using an outdated version of District Health Information System 2 (DHIS2) for health information system data management for more than 10 years. This was a challenge for the MOH, as the previous version’s limited functionalities restricted its data analysis facilitation—for instance, it was not efficient when users worked with a large data set. In addition, the country’s DHIS2 platform was also vulnerable to failure as it was no longer technically supported by the DHIS2 developers. This was because the previous version was much older than the version recommended by the developers. 


As part of CHISU’s work to strengthen Malawi’s health information system and improve the country’s data use, the program worked with the Government of Malawi to upgrade their DHIS2 software and supported the training of key users. 

 

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People sit around tables with computers in front of them.
Participants at a DHIS2 training session in Malawi.

According to Kenneth Mwakhwawa, Assistant Statistician and one of the key users of DHIS2 in Nkhata-Bay District, “The upgraded version has a more comprehensive analytic functionality which enhances data use as compared to the previous version. In addition, the system is now faster even when you are pulling a large data set, unlike the previous version.”


CHISU worked with Malawi’s MOH and other key partners to plan the country’s DHIS2 upgrade, arrange meetings with all key partners to ensure technical readiness of the MOH, and ensure availability of technical backstopping to ensure minimum disruptions during the upgrade. 


After the upgrade was successfully implemented from version 3.32 to version 3.38.3.1, CHISU supported Malawi’s MOH through the Central Monitoring and Evaluation Division (CMED) to train key users at the district level in the use of the upgraded version. A total of 75 MOH staff were trained on use of the upgraded DHIS2 instance. After the completion of the training, participants highlighted that it would have been difficult for them to use the software without the training because of the major changes that had happened to the software after the upgrade. 


Further, CHISU supported the development of a reference and training manual, which was distributed to the training participants and other DHIS2 users. Backed by the manual, the trained MOH staff are now equipped to act as resource persons to other district and program staff. 


Overall, the DHIS2 training enabled MOH staff to use the new system features to improve availability and use of quality DHIS2 data. 


“The training and the DHIS2 reference manual will go a long way in improving the use of data through effective use of analytical functionalities of the upgraded DHIS2 version,” said the MOH Principal Statistician, Bertha Kayuni.

Learn more about CHISU's work in Malawi.

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