Research: Health Priority Programme Studies and Knowledge Management (Archived)

South African Health Review  

The 13th edition of the widely-acclaimed South African Health Review was launched in December 2008, with the keynote address being delivered by the Minister of Health, Barbara Hogan. This edition of the Review focused on primary health care in South Africa, 30 years after the historic Alma Ata Declaration which famously linked health and health status to the broader social determinants of health. The Review included a national and international perspective of primary health care, focussing on areas such as policy and legislation, determinants of health, lifestyle, infectious diseases, mental health, maternal and child health, nutrition and environmental health. The Review also featured issues around human resources, finance, and information and concluded with an Indicators chapter, that presents a selection of the best available data on the functioning and performance of the South African health system.

The District Health Barometer

The District Health Barometer (DHB) project has been in existence since 2005 and provides an overall view of district health performance at primary health care level. The DHB uses health data in an effective manner by making use of selected indicators to provide clear and easily understandable information for appropriate decision making. The DHB provides an original source of data on a deprivation index, per capita expenditure and cost per patient day equivalent at district level.

An external evaluation on the project, conducted by Kedibone Health Systems Consultants, show that the DHB is widely disseminated and has been found to be instrumental in developing capacity. The publication has been widely cited by academics in SA and by those from international institutions. The approach, however, remains on making the report practically useful and bringing it closer to the people who need it the most.

Work Processes within the Government Hospital Setting that can Benefit Most from Automation .

This was a study whose findings were presented to the Health Informatics Conference in June 2008 and then received a great deal of interest from the Information Technology community. In the first phase of the study, the pharmacy component of hospitals was identified as the area that would benefit most from automation. Drug management, in particular, was important, both because it had a high rate of repetitive actions and a large turnover as well as high financial and safety risks. Implementing automated systems is likely to reduce waiting times, save time, space and resources, reduce human error, produce valuable data, reduce duplication and ensure better control. The study was undertaken by Ms Ronelle Nitt and Dr Irwin Friedman. Funding for the study was extended by its donor, Intel, to undertake a further evaluation of a beforeand-after assessment of a computerisation  intervention, introduced by the Gauteng Department of Health to Sebokeng Hospital. A baseline study was undertaken before computerisation and the post-implementation assessment will be done later this year.

Knowledge Management in Health Research

 This is a cluster of studies using a knowledge management approach which explores the extent to which national health research efforts among public health authorities, academic institutions and health research agencies reflect agreed national health research priorities. This includes the continuing refinement of the National Health Research Database (NHRD), a web-based library of over 30,000 South African health research records extracted from public domain data sources as well as the grey literature. During 2008/2009 links to this database were prominently placed on the National Department of Health’s website’s home page.

Strengthening Provincial Health Research Committees.(PHRCs)

The strengthening of Provincial Health Research Committeeshas become much more important recently since the National Health Act required greater coordination of research and ethical oversight of all research in the country. One of the outputs of this project,is a review of all PHRC research undertaken in South Africa since 1994. Another aspect of this project has included research into the use of routine data from the DHIS to inform research priorities. To assist PHRCs, a Research Application Management System (RAMS) was developed to seamlessly integrate with the NHRD to provide a web-based resource to manage all the research protocols being submitted to PHRCs throughout the country for approval. This tool, once fully implemented, will be able to document, review and coordinate a wide range of health research being conducted in the country.