In the pursuit of becoming an advanced economy by 2041, Bangladesh has recognised the pivotal role of healthcare in its policy agenda. With a commitment to accessible quality healthcare for all citizens, the government has embraced various innovative approaches. One significant milestone in this journey is the introduction of the District Health Information Software-2 (DHIS2), a digital healthcare monitoring system that can potentially shape the future of the health sector in Bangladesh, particularly in child immunisation.
DHIS2 is a comprehensive digital platform that enables health data collection, management, and analysis. It serves as a powerful tool for data-driven decision-making and evidence-based planning at all levels of the health system. Implemented in Bangladesh in 2010, DHIS2 has become the largest platform of its kind globally, with over 90% of government health facilities utilising its capabilities.
DHIS2 plays a crucial role in building a digital healthcare system in Bangladesh. By digitising routine data collection and aggregating information from grassroots-level community clinics to tertiary-level public hospitals, DHIS2 provides a foundation for a robust health information system. Its real-time data reporting capabilities reduce administrative burdens on health workers, facilitate evidence-based planning, and enhance overall efficiency. Moreover, DHIS2 fosters multisector collaboration, improves health system design, and empowers health managers with better decision-making tools.
The major beneficiaries of DHIS2 in Bangladesh are the government health facilities, which have been granted access to the data for effective management and budget allocation. Since its installation in 2010, DHIS2 has gradually expanded its reach, covering more than 14,000 public health facilities in the country. However, there is a need to extend access to private health facilities, NGOs, and city corporations to ensure a comprehensive and inclusive health information system.
One area where DHIS2 has made significant strides is in improving child immunisation services, particularly in urban areas. With its real-time data reporting capabilities, DHIS2 enables health workers to identify and reach out to individuals who have missed appointments or immunisations. This targeted approach, facilitated by the contact information stored in patients’ records, allows health facility workers to motivate patients to visit clinics and receive necessary vaccinations. The transition from a paper-based system to DHIS2 has streamlined the process, leading to enhanced health literacy and informed decision-making among the population. Every pregnant mother and under-five child is registered online, ensuring a unique list for weekly monitoring and tailored healthcare services.
The data includes the number of vaccinated children, vials and syringes used, and other logistics information. Additionally, the implementation of DHIS2’s mobile app has transformed traditional supervision checklists into a digital format, allowing real-time data uploads, including geolocation and qualitative feedback. Assistant Health Inspectors (AHI) and first-line supervisors use the app to monitor vaccination processes, worker attendance, session organisation, waste management, AEFI management, cold chain maintenance, and logistics. This enables effective monitoring and decision-making at the national, divisional, district, and sub-district levels.
The introduction of DHIS2 in Bangladesh represents a significant step towards a digital healthcare revolution. With its comprehensive data collection and analysis capabilities, DHIS2 empowers health managers and policymakers to make evidence-based decisions, allocate resources efficiently, and monitor key health indicators. By focusing on child immunisation services, DHIS2 has already made notable improvements, particularly in urban areas, where targeted interventions and enhanced health literacy have positively impacted vaccination rates. To achieve its goal of universal health coverage by 2030, Bangladesh must continue to expand the reach of DHIS2, ensuring access to private facilities, NGOs, and city corporations. The digital transformation facilitated by DHIS2 is a testament to Bangladesh’s commitment to building a smarter, more inclusive, and healthier nation.