Community Data Systems for Primary Health Care in Rwanda

In Rwanda CHWs are male and female resident volunteers elected by members of the village and are accountable of the village they serve. They should have a Primary 6 education minimum. The system guarantees that CHWs are more accessible, acceptable by clients in their communities and less expensive. Each village has a team of three CHWs. Technical supervision is done by the Health Center staff and administrative supervision by the in-charge of social affairs (cell, sector, district). CHWs receive financial compensation through Performance Based Financing (PBF) based on a set of performance indicators from monthly reports. It is this reporting process from village onwards that is explored in this case study. Services include HIV support, integrated community case management of childhood illnesses, family planning and nutrition.

The structure of the health system is based on 4 Provincial hospitals that receive referrals from 35 district hospitals. Within these districts are 465 health centers whose catchment areas contain 2,148 cells and 14,837 villages. With a goal of 3 CHWs per village (1 female & 1 male pair in charge of iCCM and 1 Female in charge of Maternal Health), Rwanda has trained 44,511 CHWs. All CHWs are organized into cooperatives. Each health center oversees one CHW cooperative (which is the basis of performance-based funding as we discuss in Module 6).

Maternal Health CHW keeps track of pregnant women

The current system has evolved since 1995, when it was completely paper-based. The Community Health Information Systems, that is the M&E system for community interventions, is carried out through different national data collection and reporting tools ultimately managed by web-based interface[1]. Tools include national standard paper-based source document (registers), paper-based monthly summary form, DHIS-2 and the système d’information sanitaire des communautés/CHW information system (SISCOM), and Rapid SMS

Initially, separate systems existed to gather data on the country’s 45,000 community health workers, HIV services, human resources, and other special programs—these data streams were separate and though the systems were web-based, none of the databases could interact. The Rwandan health system was collecting immense amounts of data, and spending considerable time and money doing so, but it was unable to effectively use that information for strategic planning or immediate action. As reported by staff of the maternal and Child Survival Program (MCSP), since the successful launch of the Rwanda-HMIS[2], many new reporting modules have been integrated into the DHIS 2 platform which include weekly and monthly reporting of community-based health insurance indicators and the CHW information system.

The following community services are tracked: Treatment of sick children (iCCM), Community Based Nutrition Program (CBNP), Malaria Treatment Adults (HBM), RDTs carried out, Family Planning, Home based Follow up of pregnant women, mothers and newborns, Nutritional monitoring, Under-5 vaccination, Maternal and Newborn Death Surveillance, Drugs and supplies, IEC activities, and user payments. These are summarized into a CHW monthly report form and ultimately into the web-based SISCOM monthly summary form. The web-based R-HMIS data tools are accessible to health staff with passwords.[3]

The data flow system moves as follows:

  — Electronic – MOH

­­­  ^ Electronic – District Hospital

  ^ Electronic – Health Center

  ^ Paper-based – Cell Coordinator

  ^ Paper-based – CHW

The coordinator of CHW cooperative submits the monthly summary form to Health Center data manager who enters aggregated data into DHIS- 2/SISCOM. The data entry screen of DHIS-2-HMIS/SISCOM can be accessed at the health center.

According to MCSP, Rapid SMS text-messaging tool is used by the CHW assigned to maternal health to track pregnant women and track the first 1000 days of life up to 5 years. Examples of information submitted include 1) Woman’s pregnancy and delivery, 2) Children under five identified with danger sign, 3) Tracking referrals (track alert sent and responses) and 4) Maternal and under five deaths. Rapid SMS data are accessed at District Hospital and used at the primary level health facilities to respond to maternal and child health emergencies. Rapid SMS sends automated, actionable responses to CHWs when reported events indicate risk, or when antenatal care visits or deliveries are due. Health facilities are notified to prepare for an anticipated delivery and/or to provide ambulance transport.

DHIS/SISCOM from the CHW also report on drug and supply management. Primary level health facilities support community health workers within the catchment area to ensure they have timely and adequate supplies.

At the local administration level (village, cell, sector, district) CHWs data are used for planning, setting and monitoring health related performance contracts. At the Central level (RBC/MOH and development partners), these data inform policies, establish strategies, manage the supply chain management, aid in research, and perform PBF

MSCP explains that feedback mechanisms and data quality are promoted through quarterly community sub-technical working group meeting, Quarterly and annual analysis of community data, and biannual integrated supervision including community Data Quality Assurance (DQA). Quarterly analysis of Community Health data informs decisions by the Management Team. The biannual DQA of community data compares paper vs. electronic sources. Monthly meetings at Health Center level review reported data and link data to quality of service provision. Mentorship included community DQA

There are monthly CHWs meetings with cell coordinator to review reported data. This also aids in Community Performance-Based Financing. Incentives are given to CHW cooperatives in exchange of their performance based on two categories of indicators.  First, quarterly payment for reporting is based on the timely submission of quality data reports related to 29 indicators including –

  • Report Quality:  Timeliness, Accuracy and Completeness of Report
  • Cooperative   Quality: Legal status, Presence of President, Bank account, etc.

Secondly, Pay-for-indicators are additional payment for improvement in five targeted areas (Nutrition, ANC, SBA, FP referrals and FP new users, LTPM). The average quarterly payment is $900 per cooperative for a 100% quality score.

MCSP notes as an example of success that all CHWs are using standard data collection tools (registers, flipcharts and summary forms). All CHWs are equipped with a mobile phone regularly loaded with airtime for Rapid SMS, communication with HC and other CHWs. The DHIS-2/SISCOM functional countrywide. A strong feedback and coordination mechanism is in place and functional. The PBF includes the CHW reporting rate. MCSP reports that the remaining challenges include turnover of trained CHWs, High workload for CHWs, inadequate response rate on alerts sent through Rapid SMS, disaggregation of data (e.g. FP not disaggregated by method), disparities in CHWs activity as per instructions for Rapid SMS, and sub-optimal use of data. Continued mentoring through CHW meetings addresses community level gaps.

CHWs keep records when providing integrated Community Case Management

[1] Jean de Dieu Gatete, Jovite Sinzahera, USAID Maternal and Child Survival Program (MCSP), Rwanda. Integrating community data into the health information system in Rwanda. Institutionalizing Community Health Conference, Johannesburg. 27-20 March 2017. www.mcsprogram.org

[2] US Agency for International Development (USAID). THE RWANDAN HEALTH MANAGEMENT INFORMATION SYSTEM: Improving Collection and Management of Health Service Data to Support Informed Decision Making. the Integrated Health Systems Strengthening Project. https://www.msh.org/sites/msh.org/files/ihssp_techbr2_final_webv.pdf

[3] Rwanda Integrated Health Management Information System. https://hmis.moh.gov.rw/

2 thoughts on “Community Data Systems for Primary Health Care in Rwanda

  1. Comment (Neil): This model indicates a level of CHW engagement that could be described as midway between ‘paid’ and ‘volunteer’. The model gives accountability primarily to the community, and yet CHWs clearly also have accountability to the health centre and the formal health system. The reliance on payment for submission of monthly reports might have a downside in encouraging falsification and even corruption, although perhaps it is more likely to work in Rwanda than other countries. I would be interested to know also how CHWs in Rwanda access healthcare information to help with clinical case decision-making (for example, to what extent do they rely on each other and their supervisor (via voice? WhatsApp?), and what mHealth or paper-based tools do they use to assist in diagnosis and management decisions?).

    Best wishes, Neil

    Coordinator, http://www.HIFA.org (Healthcare Information For All)
    Coordinator, HIFA Project on Community Health Workers
    http://www.hifa.org/projects/community-health-workers

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