First In-Person Workshop since COVID Pandemic Yields New Insights into Health Facility Data

With lots of Stata, Powerpoint, simultaneous translation, and expansive Kenyan scenery, Countdown to 2030 and our partners the Global Financing Facility (GFF) convened a group of more than 100 experts from across Africa to share best practices for analyzing health facility data and to conduct analysis in a collaborative setting. This workshop – the first in-person analysis since the COVID-19 pandemic began – was held June 13-17, 2022, in Nairobi.

This article summarizes the workshop content and shares reports from the participating countries. Other articles will explain the processes used to assess data quality and calculate appropriate denominators.

“The collaboration between the GFF and Countdown to 2030 … is a great way for the GFF to engage with a broader group of partners who have great expertise and experience in the analysis of data on women, children and adolescents,” said Peter Hansen, head of results for the GFF. “Countdown has deep technical expertise in different areas, which is mobilized in support of country efforts, and countries also have an opportunity to learn from each other and to exchange on the problems they are facing, the analyses they are doing, and different ways that they are analyzing data. And then using that, connecting that to policy processes to make a difference.”

The workshop’s objectives were to:

  • Support country analysts to develop a set of national and subnational estimates for key reproductive, maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health (RMNCAH) and nutrition indicators.
  • Strengthen skills of the country teams in the analysis of health facility and related national and subnational data.
  • Develop and share different ways of communicating results from health facility and related data analysis.
  • Enrich country-led monitoring of progress by supporting the development and implementation of comparable methods to estimate coverage from health facility data and other sources.

Participants came from academic and government institutions in 9 East and Southern African countries (Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe) and 13 West and Central African countries (Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, DR Congo, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone). All the countries are GFF priority countries, and 13 currently have ongoing Countdown collaborations. Ethiopia, Niger, and Senegal are also part of the Countdown maternal newborn health exemplar countries.

“I always think it is good when you bring people from different specializations together -academia, official statistics, ministries of health, etc. –   coming together to bring perspectives on the various data and analyses of the data that we always deal with,” said Sonnia-Magba Bu-Buakei Jabbi, director of Demographic, Health and Social Statistics at Statistics Sierra Leone, reflecting on the workshop. “I am a statistician, so when I listen to the health experts and the academics and listen to their views, peering at the data through their eyes. It always sort of enlightens me further and enriches my capacity to analyze data.”

Session facilitators came from the African Population and Health Research Center, Johns Hopkins University, Pelotas University’s International Center for Equity in Health, the World Health Organization, UNICEF, University of Manitoba and GFF.

Participants and facilitators prepared datasets and Stata code before the workshop. Each day’s activities produced an output which was add to a poster template. The posters were displayed on the workshop’s last day, and participants voted on the wining poster.

Mrs. Maame Esi Amekudzi, a health planning officer, from the Policy, Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation Division in the Ghana Health Service said her team had learned a lot about data management, denominator calculation, and equity analysis. “When we go back from here to Ghana, we intend to cascade the information to other health staff; critically is the health information managers across all regions and districts to be also able to learn the methods we have picked up from here – to be able to improve denominator estimations, do more in-depth analysis of district data, as well as regional data – for improved health service and delivery and data utilization,” she added.

See the data & analysis center webpages for health facility data and equity for more information.

Country reports

Eastern & Southern Africa:

West and Central Africa: