“It Has Been Quite a Journey”: Experiences and Evolution in Health Information Systems in Zimbabwe

“It Has Been Quite a Journey”: Experiences and Evolution in Health Information Systems in Zimbabwe

Njabulo Bruce Khumalo (National University of Science and Technology, Zimbabwe)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-6915-2.ch042

Abstract

Zimbabwe's health information system has developed over the years from a paper-based system using T-tally systems which had their fair share of successes and challenges. These challenges prompted the then Ministry of Health and Child Welfare, now, the Ministry of Health and Child Care and its partners to implement electronic health information management systems. This chapter therefore describes the challenges faced in Zimbabwe's health information management and how the Ministry of Health and Child Care and its partners responded to these challenges. The study also highlights success stories in health information management in the country. The purpose of the study is achieved through a literature review covering health information management in Zimbabwe.
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Background

The Health Delivery System in Zimbabwe

The health delivery system in Zimbabwe is divided into four levels of care, that is, primary, secondary, tertiary, and quaternary. Primary care consists of small clinics or facilities that patients in rural areas usually consult first (MoHCW, 2012). Health care at this level tends to be basic, focusing on disease prevention, maternity, and some curative services; most of these facilities are run by nurses (Osika et al, 2010). Health issues that are more serious or beyond the scope of the health services offered by primary care clinics are referred to district hospitals which are at the secondary level (MoHCW, 2012). According to Osika et al (2010) secondary care consists of facilities that receive patients via referrals from the primary care facilities. The tertiary care level is made up of provincial hospitals. Osika et al (2010) state that tertiary care consists of seven provincial hospitals, and are found in all provinces of Zimbabwe except for Bulawayo and Harare, which have Central Hospitals. Provincial hospitals receive referral patients from district hospitals and tend to have specialists on staff to deal with more difficult health issues (Osika et al, 2010). Quaternary or central care is the highest level and usually handles referrals from lower level hospitals. Hospitals in the quaternary level have the largest staff of specialists and clinicians, they report directly to the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare (MOHCW) (Osika et al, 2010).

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