Promoting Data Use to Strengthen Family Planning Programming in Senegal
Contributor: Jean Firmin Nakoulma
Municipalities in Senegal are legally required to take health issues into account in their respective budgets. Before The Challenge Initiative (TCI) began working in Senegal, this provision was weakly enforced as municipalities were not involved in discussions about health, particularly reproductive health. Furthermore, data on family planning use was not shared with municipalities; it was seen as data exclusively for the health system. As a result, the municipality did not have a clear understanding of the determinants of health of its community members and, therefore, was not able to effectively support health programs that would have the most impact.
As part of the implementation of TCI’s Data for Decision-Making approach (Données pour la prise de décisions in French), TCI organized a data review and data use workshop in October 2020 with 43 participants, including the mayors, central level management teams, regional medical teams and district management teams of TCI-supported geographies in Senegal. The workshop focused on reviewing the city’s performance as it relates to not only service statistics but also financial data supporting the city’s family planning program. The aim of the workshop was to identify bottlenecks and propose solutions and ultimately develop an improvement plan with timeline to make any course corrections.
During the workshop, stakeholders reviewed data from the active collection exercise conducted by TCI and the national health information system (referred to locally as the Health and Social Information System or DHIS2 database) in Senegal and noted a number of discrepancies in the data between the two sources. In light of these differences, Dr. Abdoulaye Diaw of the Division of the Health and Social Information System stated:
It is imperative that the districts under the leadership of the medical region take ownership of this [active data] exercise in order to improve the quality of the data.”
This active data collection has helped to address a number of Senegal’s DHIS2 data challenges in terms of completeness and quality. As a result, data from TCI’s dashboard, which pulls data from updated Senegal’s DHIS2 database, shows a 67% increase in annual client volume in TCI-supported geographies from February 2019 to March 2021, as depicted in the line graph below. This includes an 82% increase in long-acting reversible contraceptive users.
As a result of the workshop, stakeholders, including mayors, central level management teams, regional medical teams and even youth associations, understand the need to periodically review the cities’ performance in terms of family planning, and have committed to doing so by establishing a budget line for family planning for the municipality of Ziguinchor and mobilizing funds for data management and data use for decision-making in the city of Kolda.
Mr. Abdoulaye Baldé, mayor of the city of Ziguinchor, recognized the funding efforts of the municipalities:
The generosity and mutual aid put forward by the various municipalities has enabled the expansion of the project to the communes of Oussouye, Bignona and recently Thionck-Essyl.”
In reviewing TCI’s performance indicators and methodology for analysis, MME Oumou Kalsoum Diallo, IT Manager of the Senegalese Ministry of Health’s Health and Social Information System, expressed appreciation:
I now understand TCI’s intervention strategy and I am able to create a dashboard from the DHIS2 platform of the Ministry of Health to track [TCI’s] indicators [of interest] in the intervention towns.”
Workshop participants recommended institutionalizing this exercise not only at the regional level in which the workshop took place but also at lower levels of the health system, such as the district level, given that this data would help them to improve their programming as well.