This past week at the United Nations General Assembly, the world moved forward with adopting a new set of Global Goals: the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The SDGs follow on some of the same themes as the Millennium Development Goals, and aim higher and broader.
A major discussion happening across global development experts is on how the goals will be measured, who will be responsible, and where the data will come from. The UN Data Revolution Group has developed a set of guiding principles around tracking progress against the goals.
The Data Revolution Group also acknowledges, though, that “tracking progress on new goals will increase the demands on often hard-pressed National Statistical Offices to collect and analyse data in new areas. This in turn will require increasing resources for the statistical system and building statistical capacity, with the support of the international community.”
By strengthening routine health information systems (RHIS), those developing strategies around the implementation and measurement of the SDGs have an opportunity to create a lasting impact on health information systems. Instead of creating parallel reporting systems—developed by many global initiatives—let’s focus on improving and leveraging the data being captured in RHIS. Well-functioning RHIS will also help meet the data needs of countries themselves, allowing them to look to their own systems for the data necessary to make strategic budget and programming decisions. And with innovations in technology and increasing adoption of electronic RHIS solutions including DHIS2, OpenLMIS, OpenMRS and more, routine systems are evolving to be more reliable for generating real-time data than they were in the era of the MDGs.
Quality, available routine health information is a building block of a flourishing health system. With global momentum around the SDGs, strengthening RHIS seems like a win-win opportunity for global stakeholders and country governments.
Learn more about the Global Goals & follow the conversation on social media with #globalgoals and #SDGs. Let’s make sure strengthening RHIS is part of the accountability and measurement discussions!.