Paucity of health data in Nigeria

Paucity of health data is an issue that Nigeria is yet to fully resolve. Health data of good quality is essential to put adequate health systems and structures in place. It also helps to plan and develop health policies that are beneficial to all. In cases of public health emergencies, accurate health data is needed. Accurate health data is needed to know where health services are defecting so as to improve these services. It is also needed for proper monitoring, evaluation and other vital aspects of healthcare.

However, paucity of health data has caused obstacles and barriers to development in the health sector. Even public health researchers complain of not having access to vital health data and in cases where they do, it’s either inaccurate or outdated. The dearth of data is a real threat to the country achieving universal health coverage and cost effective healthcare. Establishing a health data repository is an important benchmark for growth in Nigeria’s healthcare system and there’s a need for the health sector to work on it. A Multi-Source Data Analytics and Triangulation (MSDAT) platform was developed as a solution to this problem. While the platform is still in the development stages, some stakeholders already make use of it. Advocating for open and accurate health data is important for targeted reforms to take place in the health sector.

In an age where technology has influenced a lot of sectors and development, why is the health sector still lagging behind as regards database? Why is there still paucity of health data in Nigeria?

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I think the credibility of the ones we have should first be determined.

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You are right. Most of the data we use in the country are collected by outside sources. I believe the Government should invest in accurate data that will be collected and analyzed by us (Nigerians). There’s not much these foreign organizations can do. We know how best to navigate the restrictions most of these organizations encounter during their data collection exercises. Also must of the data they have does not address the rural areas. The data is usually just collected at a state level while these small primary health care centers are being neglected. For adequate health systems and structures to be put in place everyone has to be involved.

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I enjoy reading these posts. Well done Peace. I think I agree with Tamilore and Mykaell on this one. They’ve spoken very well

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Neglect of data from smaller health care centres

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Firstly I think the fact that a large percentage of our population do not actually come to the health facilities and so we cannot even know the true number of cases that there are. Traditional and patent medicine vendors share in the blame also. Now at the facilities, especially the private facilities, they do not revert their data at the specified period, and there’s no enforcement of sanctions to defaulters and so they do not regard reporting data as essential to their operations. For example, there are structured tools for recording data for family planning, but there is still a huge problem with keeping up with family planning data nationwide, as reported during the USAID SHOPS Family Planning stakeholders meeting held in Ibadan a few weeks ago. So every stage in the health system pays a role in this data problem of ours.