mTrac: Improving health records management in Uganda’s Health Centers
Health Center IIs in Uganda provide the first level of interaction between the formal health sector and the communities, out patient care and community outreach services. This is no different from Rwantaaha Health Center II, with an enrolled comprehensive Nurse who is key to the provision of services and linkages with the village health team (VHT).
Just like many other HC IIs in the country, Rwantaaha Health Center II is located in Rwantaaha Village, which is approximately 100kms from Isingiro District Head Quarters. It serves over 1000 community members with one Nursing Assistant as the Health Facility In-charge. Previously, all HCs were required to submit paper based surveillance data forms to the district Health Office on a weekly basis. Because of the poor transport network in most of Uganda’s rural areas, some HCs always failed to submit the weekly surveillance information which later impacted on the HMIS information that is submitted on a monthly basis. A Nursing Assistant at Rwantaaha HC II had this to say in relation to the reporting issues, “I used to cry when ever it came to submitting weekly surveillance data to the District Health Office because I had no information records from which I could get the information. I wasn’t collecting that information because I knew I couldn’t be able to transport it to the district and neither did I have airtime to call the district every week”.
With the introduction of mTrac, these and many other issues affecting HC weekly reporting were addressed. All HCs are able to send eight (8) SMS messages (per HC) every week and these are displayed on a computer dashboard at the District Health Office for verification, approval and submission to Ministry of Health right away. Additionally, all HCs are stocked with enough surveillance forms with one completely filled out and filled every week. If one goes by the submission of Health workers, mTrac has eased their work;
“ With mTrac, information is easy to submit as the HMIS surveillance form has been structured into simple SMS messages with disease codes which is then submitted by my mobile phone to the district in a few minutes.”
“For the past couple of months, we have had no stock cards and registers to record malaria cases on a daily basis, which has always proved a challenge when it comes to compiling weekly information.”
“After the mTrac training, I (the in charge Rwantaaha HC II) am now a happy man and my facility submits weekly SMS reports to the district health office”.