Monitoring Sustainable Development Goal 3: how ready are the health information systems in low-income and middle-income countries?

BMJ Global Health
October 2017; volume 2, issue 4

Monitoring Sustainable Development Goal 3: how ready are the health information systems in low-income and middle-income countries?
Juliet Nabyonga-Orem
October 25, 2017, 2 (4) e000433; DOI: 10.1136/bmjgh-2017-000433
Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) present a broader scope and take a holistic multisectoral approach to development as opposed to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). While keeping the health MDG agenda, SDG3 embraces the growing challenge of non-communicable diseases and their risk factors. The broader scope of the SDG agenda, the need for a multisectoral approach and the emphasis on equity present monitoring challenges to health information systems of low-income and middle-income countries. The narrow scope and weaknesses in existing information systems, a multiplicity of data collection systems designed along disease programme and the lack of capacity for data analysis are among the limitations to be addressed. On the other hand, strong leadership and a comprehensive and longer-term approach to strengthening a unified health information system are beneficial. Strengthening country capacity to monitor SDGs will involve several actions: domestication of the SDG agenda through country-level planning and monitoring frameworks, prioritisation of interventions, indicators and setting country-specific targets. Equity stratifiers should be country specific in addressing policy concerns. The scope of existing information systems should be broadened in line with the SDG agenda monitoring requirements and strengthened to produce reliable data in a timely manner and capacity for data analysis and use of data built. Harnessing all available opportunities, emphasis should be on strengthening health sector as opposed to SDG3 monitoring. In this regard, information systems in related sectors and the private sector should be strengthened and data sharing institutionalised. Data are primarily needed to inform planning and decision-making beyond SGD3 reporting requirements.