Strengthening Data Quality and Use: A Priority for Malawi

  • laughing mother with baby
Since 2011, key achievements have been made in strengthening data quality and use in health, particularly around the quantity and availability of data. However, many challenges remains.

Strengthening data quality and use in health was the topic of discussion when the Central Monitoring and Evaluation Department of the Malawi Ministry of Health met in Lilongwe on Tuesday 17th January.

Since 2011, key achievements have been made in this area, particularly around the quantity and availability of data. The challenge remains, however, in improving the quality of data and analysis and, crucially, on how to promote the use of the data gathered.

Amongst presentations discussing the challenges of ensuring data is used by health professionals to inform decisions at facility and district level and not just as a reporting tool, E4A-MamaYe was mentioned as an example of how this can be done.

E4A-MamaYe ensuring use of data


Hajj Daitoni, Evidence Advisor for the E4A-MamaYe programme in Malawi, presented on the various approaches E4A-MamaYe has taken to encourage evidence based decision making, including:

  • Quality of Institutional Care (QuIC), low resource mobile based questionnaire that provides a rapid assessment of the ability of a health care facility to provide EmONC services in the last 24hours. The completed questionnaire generates a traffic light report that signals whether a facility is red, amber, yellow or green in its ability to provide basic services and signal functions. Based on this data facilities have identified quick responses to existing issues – including implementing solar panels to ensure adequate light for the administration of drugs at night.  
  • Maternal Death Surveillance and Response (MDSR): E4A-MamaYe has supported the National Committee for Confidential Enquiries into Maternal Death (NCCEMD) in reviewing MDSR data and strengthening MDSR as an accountability mechanism, with a focus on what actions can be taken as a result of maternal death review findings. E4A-MamaYe has also supported community based MDSR so that maternal deaths outside of the health facility are recognised, investigated and appropriate action taken.  
  • District Dashboards: packaging data from HMIS into easy to read graphs and charts that summarise performance on maternal and neonatal health indicators. As part of this process E4A-MamaYe has provided mentorship to District Implementing Teams on how to pull out, aggregate and disseminate data.  
  • Health Budget Transparency and Advocacy Scorecards: working with district councillors and civil society organisations to examine the way health budget are formulated, disbursed and implemented and improve the level of transparency and accountability in the process.

That E4A-MamaYe was pointed out for its work in this area at a time when the usage of data to improve health outcomes is under scrutiny speaks to the continued importance of our work in this area. As community members and health professionals have said, access to easily accessible, interpretable and relevant data is an empowering tool that helps save lives:

We feel more powerful to save women’s lives.

"That tool is very useful because it can show you where you are not doing good and where you are doing well. It shows you where you want to put much effort for the patients to be helped faster. We think of the core activities of the hospital, which is the patient first . . . anything that needs a patient to be saved is a core activity. . . when QuIC shows there is a challenge anywhere that pertains to patient care we take that as a priority." Nurse Officer, District Hospital, Rumphi

  • Scorecard Malawi

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