Strengthening health information systems for preventing and controlling non-communicable diseases in the Pacific Region

Gouda, Hebe N., Hodge, Nicola, Aumua, Audrey, Gilks, Charles, Rampatige, Rasika, Lopez, Alan D., Mikkelsen, Lene, Carla AbouZahr, Carla AbouZahr,, Beaglehole, Robert, Bonita, Ruth, Percival, Teuila, Swinburn, Boyd, Bell, Colin, Benson, Amanda, Durand, A. Mark, Hoy, Damian, Neal, Bruce, Roberts, Graham and Waqanivalu, Temo (2013). Strengthening health information systems for preventing and controlling non-communicable diseases in the Pacific Region. Working Paper Series 33, School of Population Health, University of Queensland.

Author Gouda, Hebe N.
Hodge, Nicola
Aumua, Audrey
Gilks, Charles
Rampatige, Rasika
Lopez, Alan D.
Mikkelsen, Lene
Carla AbouZahr, Carla AbouZahr,
Beaglehole, Robert
Bonita, Ruth
Percival, Teuila
Swinburn, Boyd
Bell, Colin
Benson, Amanda
Durand, A. Mark
Hoy, Damian
Neal, Bruce
Roberts, Graham
Waqanivalu, Temo
Title Strengthening health information systems for preventing and controlling non-communicable diseases in the Pacific Region
School, Department or Centre School of Population Health
Institution University of Queensland
Series Working Paper Series
Report Number 33
Publication date 2013-10
Publisher Health Information Systems Knowledge Hub
Total pages 43
Language eng
Formatted abstract
The Pacific region is in the midst of a non-communicable disease (NCD) epidemic which has reached crisis point, a concern that was highlighted at the Ninth Meeting of Ministers of Health for the Pacific Island Countries (WHO WPRO 2011). Urgent and deliberative action is necessary to monitor and control NCDs such as cardiovascular disease and stroke. In response to this crisis, the World Health Organization (WHO) has developed a global action plan for the prevention and control of noncommunicable diseases 2013–2020 (WHO 2013a) and a comprehensive global monitoring framework, including indicators and voluntary global targets (WHO 2012a).

To stimulate policy dialogue and raise awareness of the importance of reliably monitoring progress in line with the WHO global action plan in the region, the Health Information Systems Knowledge Hub brought together an expert panel. The panel assessed the implications of applying the WHO global monitoring framework to Pacific health information systems, and the implications for health information systems in Pacific Island Countries and Territories of supporting national responses and health system responses to the NCD epidemic.

In this working paper, we present the issues highlighted by the expert panel and set out recommendations for strengthening health information systems in the Pacific region. We endorse a hierarchical approach to applying the global monitoring framework’s NCD targets. Countries should focus efforts on interventions that are known to have large health impacts and that are feasible and cost-effective. To this end, we identify areas of health information systems in the Pacific that require strengthening and capacity building. At the most basic level, strengthening national civil registration and vital statistics systems is crucial so that reliable mortality-bycause data can be collected and used. Integrating NCD surveillance into health information systems is important to provide much-needed evidence on prevalence and trends, by age and sex, of exposures to specific risk factors.

Health information systems usually collect and compile data from national health systems, vital registration systems and population-based surveys. However, the severity and urgency of the NCD epidemic demands that these systems go beyond traditional sources of information. Health information systems in the Pacific should incorporate information about trade regulations, national policies and implementation programs intended to control the access, cost and quality of potentially harmful products such as processed foods, as well as further limit access to tobacco and alcohol. To do this, the desirable outcomes of this response must be defined and tracked systematically to show what impact these measures have on individual jurisdictions and to allow comparison between jurisdictions.

We also identify a research agenda that should be incorporated into, and be considered as an integral component of, national health information systems. It includes investigations into the incremental costs of surveillance activities and core policy interventions. Clarifying the direct and hidden costs and benefits associated with NCDs and interventions is likely to help advance the policy agenda surrounding NCDs. We also recommend a platform for regional NCD governance which can harmonise efforts to monitor, prevent and control, and coordinate capacity-building activities for Pacific Island Countries and Territories.

Document type: Working Paper
Collection: School of Public Health Publications
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Created: Mon, 10 Mar 2014, 10:28:43 EST by Hebe Gouda on behalf of School of Public Health