The World Health Organization identified supportive policy and regulatory frameworks as a key ingredient in a high functioning health information system (HMN Tools, 2008). These frameworks provide the foundation for effective data collection and management systems, which are needed for data use. Health information is most effective and useful when widely available so policies that enable data sharing are critical to this.
At the same time, the confidentiality of an individual’s health information must be protected. A data use policy is a regulation, guideline or law that provides the necessary guidance to the health sector on issues affecting data analysis and use.
Needed policies will differ by country but may include:
• Roles and responsibilities of different actors in the HIS
• Data quality requirements
• Detailed guidance on required data analyses and reports
• Detailed guidance on how to incorporate data into decision making
• Policies around confidentiality of health information
• Policies around sharing data
We work with countries to develop data use policies that support effective data collection and use at the national level. This collaborative process includes detailed discussions with ministries of health counterparts to understand needs and parameters for policy, review of international best practices and existing policies, conducting a needs assessment with key stakeholders, assisting with policy drafting and buy-in meetings to get input from key stakeholders.