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Information and advisory services for health systems planning, monitoring, surveillance and evaluation

DSCF6815.JPGInformation, communication and dissemination of key health-related information have formed a cornerstone of HST’s work, driven by our commitment to monitor health service equity and to manage various channels and platforms for sharing such findings.

HST produces two annual flagship publications: the South African Health Review and the District Health Barometer. The South African Health Review is an accredited peer-reviewed journal of critical analysis and commentary by specialists on key issues relating to health systems policy and practice. Containing South African perspectives on health policy developments and their implementation, as well as monitored changes and challenges in the provision of equitable and accessible health care in the country, the Review has gained increasing prestige as an authoritative and comprehensive resource. The District Health Barometer is a comprehensive statistical and analytical resource providing an overall view of district health performance at the primary health care level, including hospitals. Covering 52 health districts in nine provinces, the Barometer is used as a resource by the NDoH to develop strategy, monitor district performance, and inform planning at national and provincial levels.

The Annual Health Statistics compilation offers key health data reflecting aspects of service delivery across national, provincial, district and sub-district levels. This work has included the development of the database and data collection tools, as well as building capacity within the NDoH to maintain outputs.

To decrease the burden on healthcare workers when collecting vertical programme data, the Rationalisation of Registers project has sought to relieve them of manually completing up to 54 different facility registers. By reducing this number to six registers per facility, healthcare workers are now able to devote significantly more of their working day to patients’ needs.

In the area of practical applications of Health Management Information Systems, HST provided technical assistance in the computerisation of the Electronic Medical Record (EMR) system for the Lesotho Health Systems Strengthening Project. In a ground-breaking initiative, HST was one of the lead partners in developing a full electronic medical record system for some NHI districts in KwaZulu-Natal. New EMR modules have been developed and implemented, effectively allowing community health workers to register patients’ details at their homes.

Stories of Change is a publication series presenting quality improvement case-stories that describe how SA SURE Project teams are translating policy into practice in health facilities across the country, and thus achieving sustainable responses to HIV, AIDS and TB.

HST issues a regular digest and manages several discussion groups to encourage dialogue between key public health stakeholders. The HST Bulletin is a twice-monthly digest of key public health news, peer-reviewed journal articles and other important primary health care resources compiled from a wide range of local, regional and international sources and transmitted to a subscriber list. Acknowledging the feminised HIV/AIDS epidemic estimated to affect 60% of women in southern Africa, the 60percent List is a moderated electronic discussion group which shares current peer-reviewed and media articles on HIV/AIDS within a gender, women’s rights and sexual and reproductive health and rights lens through the continuum of prevention, treatment and care. HST’s DrugInfo moderated list is a lively discussion group which keeps health practitioners at all levels abreast of drug information, developments in drug policy in South Africa, and targeted pharmacological information. The HST website, accessed by approximately 40 000 visitors monthly, has become a respected hub of health and socio-economic indicators and public health information in South Africa.