By canoe, car or on foot: the journey to high-quality health data

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In the end, our team managed to collect relevant data from 692 health facilities nationwide by April 2021.

Throughout this work, we were constantly reminded that data is more than just numbers. We walk through the mud to get these numbers – and these numbers represent the state of reality. These numbers tell stories and help shape a better and safer future for many people.

The data we have collected is being analyzed at national, regional and sub-national levels, and a national report on biomedical equipment has recently been published. PATH and the MOH use the data to effectively manage the distribution of medical devices and advocate for additional supply.

The data has been crucial to support strategic planning for the response to the COVID-19 pandemic in the DRC. And overall, the data has been key in highlighting the severe lack of availability of medical oxygen across the country, especially in public healthcare facilities. Using the data, our team also worked with the World Bank and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria to identify gaps and calculate needs for quantification of biomedical equipment for respiratory care.

With this information, PATH was able to help the government successfully develop a national oxygen roadmap to strategically direct investments for increased access to respiratory care nationwide. The government is considering universal access to medical oxygen and pulse oximeters, so that no patient admitted to a healthcare facility will ever die from lack of oxygen.

In many ways, this large-scale data collection exercise – both in terms of its importance for planning and decision-making as well as the practical difficulties of implementing it – underscores the need for submission systems and robust, standardized and regular data collection. To this extent, PATH is supporting the Ministry of Health in the development and dissemination of simple tools for facilities to regularly track and manage biomedical equipment data.

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