PAHO Plan of action for strengthening information systems for health 2019-2023

4 October, 2019

(With thanks to Eliane Pereira and HIFA-Spanish. Join HIFA-Spanish: )

PAHO has published its Plan of action for strengthening information systems for health 2019-2023. The original is in Spanish and the English version is here:

Below are extracts that are especially relevant to HIFA. That said, the emphasis appears to be on data and statistics rather than practical guidance for the general public and health workers. Comment/question from me below.


Information and knowledge management

22. Health information remains the key factor supporting all aspects of action, such as research, planning, decision-making, priority-setting, policy-making, operations, monitoring, and evaluation, which should be based on the greatest possible evidence.

Nonetheless, there are persistent disparities between countries in the coverage, reliability, and timelines of the information provided by information systems for health. There are also disparities in the analytical and research capacity to produce disaggregated health data and to use that data to analyze the causes of the problems affecting different population groups and the best available options to address them (8).

23. The Region’s health systems are marked by fragmentation, lack of access, and inequality in health care. This is reflected, in turn, in the fragmentation of the information they produce (13).

24. Other challenges include different interpretations of what information is needed. Information systems may be viewed simply as health records, but they should also include surveys of risk factors and demographic data.

Strategic Line of Action 3: Information and knowledge management

34. This refers to active participation by the scientific and academic community, civil society, and information producers and users in the real-time collection or capture of data and information, and facilitation of access to accurate information at the right time and in the right format.


Comment (NPW): It's interesting that the new term 'information systems for health' is now being used instead of the conventional 'health information systems'. PAHO defines this as 'A mechanism for managing interoperable systems with open data that comes from different sources and that is ethically used, through effective ICT tools, to generate strategic information for the benefit of public health'. This last part 'generate strategic information for the benefit of public health' does not appear explicitly to embrace the practical healthcare information needs of the general public and health workers. It would be interesting to compare this PAHO plan with the corresponding global plan and other regional plans.

Best wishes, Neil

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HIFA profile: Neil Pakenham-Walsh is coordinator of the HIFA global health campaign (Healthcare Information For All - ), a global community with more than 19,000 members in 177 countries, interacting on six global forums in four languages. Twitter: @hifa_org FB: