IMA World Health’s mission to digitize routine data began in 2006 when it was one of a few organizations that aided the government’s transition from its paper-based information system to a digital platform known as GESIS, which, in English, stands for Health Information System Management. Unfortunately, restrictions within GESIS made it difficult to make modifications to add new health zones, change populations, or evolve indicators and targets. GESIS quickly began to lose favor throughout the country for its inefficiencies and inability to produce rapid and quality data. Ten years after its inception, only 35 percent of the country had implemented GESIS.
In 2009, IMA World Health pioneered the implementation of the District Health Information System (DHIS) 1.4. DHIS is an open-source software program that is free to use and is now operating in 73 countries. Within six months, the IMA-led Integrated Health Services Project (Project AXxes) had successfully customized the software’s reporting system to the DRC’s SNIS, installed and adopted it province-wide in South Kivu’s 28 health zones, and began to effectively utilize the system. Implementers at all levels were pleased with the ease of implementation, the rapid processing of data, and the resulting improved data quality.
Five years later, we implemented the updated version, DHIS2, in 52 health zones during our Access to Primary Health Care (ASSP) Project and, in 2015, the rest of the country followed suit. IMA World Health led a consortium of partners that banded together to implement the system in every health zone across the nation. Health centers were connected to the internet via VSAT satellite transmission and 3G mobile networks. Hundreds of health zone central offices were outfitted with computers and thousands of health care workers were trained on how to complete the monthly reports and enter the data into the DHIS2 platform.