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Feb 15
A day in the life of a Health Systems Trust Data Management Officer

By: Lunga Memela (HST Communications Engagement Lead)

Meet Rhulane Madale, the dedicated Health Systems Trust (HST) Data Management Officer  who has been serving the SA SURE PRO project in KwaZulu-Natal's uMgungundlovu District since October 2018. Her accurate and timeous reporting supports HST's Monitoring and Evaluation teams as well as district and sub-district levels of the Kwa-Zulu Natal Department of Health (KZN DoH) in strengthening local capacity for providing sustainable HIV and TB care and treatment in line with the UNAIDS 95-95-95 targets to end AIDS by 2030.

The need to report accurate data

Recording and reporting accurate data is critical for health systems strengthening, and that is why Madale views herself as being a watchman through the lens of data. Her performance agreement has a 'zero error' indicator. "Why? Because the data we collect on routine basis are about human beings, not just numbers," she said.

Madale's data analysis enables her to advise on campaign efforts, and to alert teams entering a red zone in terms of performance against targets. She explains that accurate reporting is the key to planning targeted interventions that respond correctly to the needs of the people residing in the communities served by HST. "This means that I need to be vigilant when I consolidate reports. If there is something wrong with my data reports, decisions are based on wrong information… I love this job, because it keeps my analytical skills and attention to detail intact."

Madale joined HST as a Researcher in 2009 and was appointed as a Senior Researcher in 2013.  She enjoyed developing training programmes that built capacity in HST-supported districts for the benefit of Primary Health Care Facility Managers and District Health Management Teams across provinces. She applied the skills that she acquired within HST's Health Systems Research Unit when she assumed the data management position. "I am able to scrutinise data and ask the right questions because of that scientific research background," she said.

Madale says that it has been rewarding to see increased uptake of HIV testing in uMgungundlovu over the years. This means that, in partnership with the DoH, the team can link more HIV-positive individuals to treatment and also work on improving viral load testing coverage. She stresses the importance of people being tested for TB and HIV regularly. "Our programme centres on the UNAIDS 95-95-95 strategy, so the data that we collect, consolidate and analyse on a routine basis address the HIV and TB care and treatment cascades."

The journey continues

Growing up, Madale wanted to become a psychologist. After her parents supported her Bachelor of Arts Degree, she pursed a Higher Education Diploma so that she could teach and do counselling at schools, while continuing to advance her career in Psychology. Ironically, five years after her graduation, she was appointed by the Department of Community Health at Mangkweng Hospital Complex in Polokwane to collect health data from local clinics for a Health Information Systems project.

Madale was fortunate to secure an internship, and later formal employment, at HST, where she believes she can make a meaningful contribution to people's lives. Today, she holds a Master's degree in Public Health, and uses her expertise to uplift others.

Madale is both analytical and creative: she loves singing and expressing her emotions through song, and when her head is not spinning with numbers and statistics, she spends her spare time dabbling in interior design.



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