RHINO was created in 2001 to connect individuals and organizations working to strengthening routine health information systems (RHIS) around the world. In 2008, we incorporated as a US 501(c)3 nonprofit. We are the first global network for RHIS professionals, and currently have development of Regional RHINOs underway through partnerships with existing regional eHealth and HIS networks.
The Routine Health Information Network has roots in the MEASURE Evaluation Project, the US Agency for International Development’s (USAID) flagship global monitoring and evaluation project. Since 2001, USAID has generously supported RHINO with annual financial resources through the project that supports a secretariat.
In its first five years, RHINO was able to build an effective network even with a relatively low level of funding, with great reliance on the individuals who contributed their expertise to the network. However, in order to reduce dependency on USAID and to broaden our services, it became desirable to recruit additional funding sources. In order to do so, we decided to create a new organization, the RHINO NGO.
Incorporated as an NGO
In December 2006, RHINO was incorporated in the state of Massachusetts (USA). In 2008 RHINO obtained the 501(c)(3) status, which in the USA means that it can receive tax-exempt donations. The key documents governing RHINO are the Articles of Organization which state the purpose of the organization and the By-laws which specify the rules for operating the corporation.
Supporting Local RHIS Strengthening through Regional Networks
More recently, in order to reinforce the demand for strong RHIS at country level, efforts are underway to decentralize RHIS advocacy and capacity building to regional levels.
An example is the RELACSIS initiative in Latin America, which, with technical assistance of PAHO and INSP/Mexico, has led to the development of capacity building and advocacy initiatives that are more responsive to the needs of participating countries and that are leading to increased country ownership of the RHIS. Plans are underway to establish such “regional RHINO’s” in West Africa (working with WAHO) and in Asia (working with AeHIN).
Since its founding in 2001, RHINO has established itself as a premier resource center to provide information, resources, and networking opportunities on RHIS to a variety of health information experts and users.
Beginning with the first international RHINO workshop in 2001 in Potomac, the network has built up a membership of over 1000 members from 73 countries. These members represent a broad range of organizations including governments, development agencies, NGOs, health facility managers, HIS professionals and consultants. The website and email list-serv have developed into a valuable reference for individuals and organizations working in this field worldwide. RHINO has held four international workshops, each of which has advanced the state of knowledge of developing country RHIS as well as providing a powerful rationale for advocating investment in routine health information systems.
There is a clear consensus in the international health community that well-functioning RHIS are the key to the delivery of quality health services and to efficient use of health resources. There is also clear acknowledgment that existing RHIS in most developing countries are inadequate to meet the needs. RHINO provides information, tools, and technical resources to address the challenge of improving routine health information systems throughout the developing world.