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1.  An in-depth, exploratory assessment of the implementation of the National Health Information System at a district level hospital in Tanzania 
Background
A well functioning Health Information System (HIS) is crucial for effective and efficient health service delivery. In Tanzania there is a national HIS called Mfumo wa Taarifa za Uendeshaji Huduma za Afya (MTUHA). It comprises a guideline/manual, a series of registers for primary data collection and secondary data books where information from the registers is totalled or used for calculations.
Methods
A mix of qualitative methods were used. These included key informant interviews; staff interviews; participant observations; and a retrospective analysis of the hospital’s 2010 MTUHA reporting documents and the hospital’s development plan.
Results
All staff members acknowledged data collection as part of their job responsibilities. However, all had concerns about the accuracy of MTUHA data. Access to training was limited, mathematical capabilities often low, dissemination of MTUHA knowledge within the hospital poor, and a broad understanding of the HIS’s full capabilities lacking.
Whilst data collection for routine services functioned reasonably well, filling of the secondary data tools was unsatisfactory. Internal inconsistencies between the different types of data tools were found. These included duplications, and the collection of data that was not further used. Sixteen of the total 72 forms (22.2%) that make up one of the key secondary data books (Hospital data/MTUHA book 2) could not be completed with the information collected in the primary data books.
Moreover, the hospital made no use of any of the secondary data. The hospital’s main planning document was its development plan. Only 3 of the 22 indicators in this plan were the same as indicators in MTUHA, the information for 9 more was collected by the MTUHA system but figures had to be extracted and recalculated to fit, while for the remaining 10 indicators no use could be made of MTUHA at all.
Conclusion
The HIS in Tanzania is very extensive and it could be advisable to simplify it to the core business of data collection for routine services. Alternatively, the more comprehensive, managerial aspects could be sharpened for each type of facility, with a focus upon the hospital level. In particular, hospital planning documents need to be more closely aligned with MTUHA indicators.
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-14-91
PMCID: PMC3938470  PMID: 24572013
Health information system; District health system; Developing countries
2.  The unmet need for Emergency Obstetric Care in Tanga Region, Tanzania 
Background
Improving maternal health by reducing maternal mortality constitutes the fifth Millennium Development Goal and represents a key public health challenge in the United Republic of Tanzania. In response to the need to evaluate and monitor safe motherhood interventions, this study aims at assessing the coverage of obstetric care according to the Unmet Obstetric Need (UON) concept by obtaining information on indications for, and outcomes of, major obstetric interventions. Furthermore, we explore whether this concept can be operationalised at district level.
Methods
A two year study using the Unmet Obstetric Need concept was carried out in three districts in Tanga Region, Tanzania. Data was collected prospectively at all four hospitals in the region for every woman undergoing a major obstetric intervention, including indication and outcome. The concept was adapted to address differentials in access to emergency obstetric care between districts and between rural and urban areas. Based upon literature and expert consensus, a threshold of 2% of all deliveries was used to define the expected minimum requirement of major obstetric interventions performed for absolute maternal indications.
Results
Protocols covering 1,260 complicated deliveries were analysed. The percentage of major obstetric interventions carried out in response to an absolute maternal indication was only 71%; most major obstetric interventions (97%) were caesarean sections. The most frequent indication was cephalo-pelvic-disproportion (51%). The proportion of major obstetric interventions for absolute maternal indications performed amongst women living in urban areas was 1.8% of all deliveries, while in rural areas it was only 0.7%. The high proportion (8.3%) of negative maternal outcomes in terms of morbidity and mortality, as well as the high perinatal mortality of 9.1% (still birth 6.9%, dying within 24 hours 1.7%, dying after 24 hours 0.5%) raise concern about the quality of care being provided.
Conclusion
Based on the 2% threshold, Tanga Region – with an overall level of major obstetric interventions for absolute maternal indications of 1% and a caesarean section rate of 1.4% – has significant unmet obstetric need with a considerable rural-urban disparity. The UON concept was found to be a suitable tool for evaluating and monitoring the coverage of obstetric care at district level.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-7-16
PMCID: PMC1988833  PMID: 17683590

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