Numbers Can Save Lives: Quality Data Helps Fight Malaria in Kenya

Speeches Shim

Friday, April 23, 2021
With support from USAID's Tupime Kaunti, counties are using quality data to make decisions in the fight against malaria.
Teddy Chenya/Tupime Kaunti

Siaya County is tucked against Lake Victoria in Kenya’s Northeast. The sprawling body of water - Africa’s largest lake - is a source of livelihood for many inhabitants, but also provides the perfect living conditions for mosquitoes. Malaria is the leading cause of illness and death in Siaya. In 2020, 546 out of every 1,000 people in the county were infected with malaria, requiring approximately $1.63 million worth of medicine for treatment.

Prevention of the mosquito-borne disease and correct case management are crucial, but officials have struggled to make informed decisions due to a lack of quality data.

In response, USAID’s Tupime Kaunti program partnered with the Siaya County Department of Health to train health officers so that they can help improve malaria data. The initiative was funded by the U.S. President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI), which has invested $442 million in Kenya’s fight against malaria since 2006.

Having correct data is crucial as counties in Kenya use it to ensure that they have sufficient supplies and commodities for the management of malaria.

The trained health records information officers identified five health facilities per sub-county that were in need of data quality improvement initiatives. Asuman Zuber, the health records information officer for Gem sub-county, recalls that its different malaria data sets “were not speaking the same language.”

“In many occasions, the confirmed malaria cases were more than the suspected ones, which should not be the case,” he says.

The trained officers will use their new skills to implement a full range of data quality assurance activities across the county. This will include offering training on correct documentation and reporting, establishing forums to discuss and address data quality issues, and disseminating best practices and lessons learned.

“As a result of all these efforts, we are now having pride in having more accurate data,” Zuber says.

USAID’s Tupime Kaunti is working with nine Kenyan counties on providing quality data and
synthesized information for planning, implementation, policy development and decision-making. The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted malaria and other essential health care services and has increased demand for timely quality data to inform interventions.

PMI, which last year marked its 15th anniversary, works in Kenya and 23 other partner countries in sub-Saharan Africa, building capacity and strengthening systems to combat malaria and save lives. 

Last updated: May 07, 2021

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