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Research brief summary
Universal health coverage (UHC) is central in the health-related Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that is to be reached by 2030. It requires robust health care systems that is responsive to the population needs. Accurate and timely health information is essential in the monitoring of program performance and progress towards national and global targets, such as the SDG 2: “By 2030, end all forms of malnutrition, including achieving, by 2025, the internationally agreed targets on stunting and wasting in children under 5 years of age, and address the nutritional needs of adolescent girls, pregnant and lactating women and older persons health in general” (2).
In Rwanda, 33% of children under five years of age are stunted, which hinder their future productivity (1). Children growth monitoring is at a low rate of 75%, stunting is the main health challenge upon which the Government of Rwanda (GoR) is struggling to register progress. First responders (i.e CHWs and nutritionists) in primarily health facilities perform growth monitoring to identify children with acute malnutrition. The clinical nutrition records are paper-based, which makes sharing of medical records and patient referrals across health facilities difficult, and repetitive data entry is often occurring.
To improve eHealth in Rwanda and in the Region, the University of Rwanda (UR) through the Regional Centre of Excellence in Biomedical Engineering and E-health (CEBE) project, is sponsoring my, RUKUNDO Enock, PhD fellowship. University of Bergen, Department of Global Health and Primary Care, Faculty of Medicine, Norway.
The proposed study, “An assessment of the national nutrition program for children under two years of age, and its growth monitoring service provision and utilization in Rwanda”, is part of the PhD project “the design and implementation of digital health interventions (DHI) to improve growth-monitoring for the identification and management of malnutrition in Rwanda”. The overall goal of the PhD project is to strengthen the National Nutrition Program, and Rwanda Biomedical Center (RBC) has confirmed its collaboration.
To help identify opportunities for DHIs to improve the effectiveness of the national nutrition program for children, the proposed study aims to assess stakeholders’ perceptions of the program, including its services; growth monitoring; utilization/coverage; health information capture, management, and use; as well as opportunities and barriers to the use of point-of-care DHIs in support of the program.
The University of Oslo (UiO) and the Norwegian Institute of Public Health (NIPH) are partnering with the ministry of health in Rwanda and the Health Information Systems Programme (HISP) Rwanda to support the assessment and potential further evolvement of the NIS. The goal is to optimize the NIS through co-design with users into a point-of-care clinical tool, used for identifying individual patients, capturing individual-level data in real time, and tracking patient follow-up and treatment over time.
In collaboration with the University of Bergen (UiB), University of Rwanda (UR) and Rwanda Biomedical Center (RBC), we have designed a PhD project to assess the status, identify room for improvement, and develop and evaluate digital health interventions (DHIs) to improve the national nutrition program for children up to the age of two years.
This study is the first stage of this PhD project, focused on the assessment of current status, the health information needs of stakeholders (beneficiaries, care providers, data managers, and program supervisors/managers), and the opportunities and barriers to such DHIs.
- Maternal and child health
- Digital health interventions (DHIs)
- Health systems strengthening
- Data management and analytics
- Implementation research