Ugandan Health Managers Build Skills in Using Data

“[We] need to know the current health workers in health facilities under UPMB [Uganda Protestants Medical Bureau]. . . and I had just started collecting [health facility] data, but I could not come up with enough details given the difficulty with managing data manually,” admits Ruth Nabagala, UPMB monitoring and evaluation officer. “This training enabled me to realize that human resources information systems can help us know the number of health workers we have and the gaps that need to be filled.

Improving health sector leaders’ data skills

IntraHealth is working with Ruth and other Uganda health sector managers to better enable them to access, analyze and use data that is often readily available to them.

Between 2007 and 2008, the IntraHealth-led global Capacity Project established human resources information systems (HRIS)—using Open Source software that tracks human resources data—at Uganda’s health professional councils and the Ministry of Health.

To address gaps in using these systems, this year the IntraHealth-led Uganda Capacity Program—a Uganda-specific follow-on to the Capacity Project—led a five-day workshop to train health care data managers—from the Ministry of Health, health professional councils and private non-profit organizations—in human resources for health data analysis and use.

Using data to better inform decisions

“One lesson I have learned is that data are very important for decision making,” says workshop participant Ahimbisibwe Maureen, from the Allied Health Professional Council. “Thus, [data] should be managed in a manner that can enable easy usage.”

Dr. Matsiko Charles, Uganda Capacity Program’s policy and planning advisor, explains that the workshop aimed to strengthen national data management systems. A lot of information is generated daily, Charles notes, yet most of it is never used by the managers of the health units. “Follow up workshops are planned for the 40 districts,” he adds.

Impacting human resources at the Ministry of Health

Tumugumwe Caleb, records officer at the Ministry of Health, says that the HRIS currently being used in the Ministry is vital to improving service delivery and promoting efficiency and effectiveness.

“It will have a big impact on career development of the health workforce.”