The Republic of Trinidad and Tobago has committed to moving forward quickly to strengthen its national health information system using the HMN Framework.
Following the PAHO/WHO HMN mission to Trinidad and Tobago, which took place in October 2009, in early March 2010, the Ministry of Health held a Health Metrics Network (HMN) Assessment Workshop with technical and funding support from PAHO/WHO and the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
PAHO/WHO Technical Consultants, Yvette Holder and Daniel Doane, facilitated the assessment workshop with over 80 stakeholder representatives from the Ministry of Health and the Regional Health Authorities, as well other ministries and several development agencies. The assessment highlighted a number of existing strengths within the national health information system (NHIS), including strong civil registration information and high quality data for indicators in some vertical health programmes. Key challenges included low use of enabling information technology to support data collection and management, and gaps in the dissemination of existing health information for evidence-based decision-making, in particular, in providing information back to health planners and managers within the health regions.
The workshop provided an opportunity to educate stakeholders on the components of a high-functioning health information system, and the role of the HMN Framework in assessment, strategic planning and implementation of strengthening initiatives. The final assessment report to be completed by the end of April 2010 will form the first step in initiating a rapid strategic planning process. The Ministry of Health has committed to completing a NHIS Strategic Plan by August 2010, with implementation activities beginning in September 2010.
Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Anton Cumberbatch, recognizes that these timelines are ambitious, but believes that this is a crucial opportunity to bring together a number of related information technology and programmatic initiatives under the umbrella of a single, integrated and coordinated HIS Strategic Plan. “We are fortunate,” noted Dr. Cumberbatch, “in that we have the full support of the Prime Minister’s Office, the Minister of Health and the Ministry of Public Administration. With this level of political support, and with the support of our partners at PAHO/WHO, as well as the demonstrated co-operation of our various stakeholders, we are confident we can deliver this strategic plan within these tight timelines.”
Dr. Cumberbatch emphasized the importance of an effective health information system for Trinidad and Tobago. “The Ministry of Health is committed to evidence-based planning and interventions to improve the health our population, so an effective health information system is key. The Health Metrics Network framework provides us with excellent guidance for planning and managing our strengthening initiatives.”
NHIS strengthening in countries of Latin America and the Caribbean is a prioritized technical cooperation activity for PAHO/WHO through the Health Information and Analysis project. Working together with the local Country office and other partners, PAHO/WHO is facilitating coordination and providing technical cooperation to the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago in order to improve the HIS, the quality and availability of health statistics, and its use to support evidence-based decision-making in health, and ultimately improve the population health. PAHO/WHO will launch the Latin American and Caribbean Network on Health Information Systems (REDLACSIS) during a regional meeting scheduled for April in Lima, Peru. This technical meeting will be devoted to discuss strategies, best practices and experiences to improve the technical cooperation to strengthen HIS and health statistics. Professionals with responsibility for HIS from Ministries of Health and National Statistics Offices will attend this meeting along with PAHO/WHO advisors. This meeting will benefit the Trinidad and Tobago’s HIS strengthening initiative.
PAHO/WHO is committed to support the Ministry of Health of Republic of Trinidad and Tobago to succeed in this strategic and important initiative.