Nearly a decade ago, the global community that uses District Health Information System 2 (DHIS2) began reaching out to one another in forums and email chains to work through complex problems. They wanted to know if others had encountered a challenge, and, if so, how they solved it. Could they avoid “reinventing the wheel”? What lessons could be learned from the experience of others and could they apply them to their challenge?
Everyone was longing for one central place to connect with each other—to find relevant resources, share user stories and solutions, and ask for support. The DHIS2 Community of Practice (CoP) was established to be just that—a “one-stop shop” for DHIS2 community members to engage with each other. Last year, Digital Square funded the core DHIS2 team at University of Oslo to create this collective vision to share, learn, support, and connect.
The sense of community and connectivity is already evident. Community members share experiences, offer solutions, and feel confident reaching out for support. Community members have provided overwhelmingly positive feedback about this new community forum. “I was not a fan of the switch from email [the previous method used to communicate with DHIS2 users] to this format at first, but now I love it. Much easier to find previously posted threads relevant to my questions. I basically just keep the CoP home page open on my computer.”
The CoP also opens a channel for DHIS2 developers to understand the needs of the community and helps inform future updates. For Ameen Mohamed, a core DHIS2 back-end developer, “The CoP platform has significantly boosted the interaction between the entire DHIS2 family. The engagements and information in the DHIS2 CoP are more transparent and easily retrievable. I find it easy to browse and understand issues and thoughts from DHIS2 stakeholders from all around the world. You rarely come across redundant questions or discussions because of the platform’s intuitive search and categorization features.”
The DHIS2 CoP went live in November 2018 with more than 85 members joining the first community webinar. Today, community members have access to curated information in 60,000 posts and 34,000 discussion threads on the CoP. In just a few short months, the CoP has grown to over 1,900 members.
Amanda BenDor, Community Engagement Manager of Digital Square, shares, “Digital Square is excited to see how fast the global good community is embracing the new DHIS2 CoP. It is a model for how other global goods can engage, support, and extend their impact to implementers and developers.”
More about DHIS2
Nearly 2.3 billion people live in countries that DHIS2 as the national health management information system. DHIS2 is the world's largest open source health management information system platform. It is used in 67 low- and middle-income countries, including national-scale deployments in 46 countries and pilot programs in 21 countries, plus 17 Indian states implementing at full scale. With the inclusion of nongovernmental organization (NGO)-based programs, DHIS2 is used in more than 100 countries.
The diverse and impactful uses of DHIS2 include data management and analysis, health program monitoring and evaluation, facility registries and service availability mapping, logistics management, and mobile tracking of pregnant women in rural communities. DHIS2 isn’t limited to health and government agencies. The software powers programs in education; logistics; nutrition; water, sanitation, and hygiene; and even wildlife preservation. International NGOs such as Doctors Without Borders, Population Services International, and Save the Children have all used DHIS2 to manage their routine data. The DHIS2 Tracker captures individual-level data, over time, about anything—immunization records, pregnant women, lab samples, or even geographical areas. In many cases, it is used to create digital health records, tracking important clinical information concerning treatment, past health history, and risk conditions.
“[With] one single platform for health information on DHIS2, the Ministry of Health now says we are one country, we have one system, we have one plan and we sing one song.” —Anh Chu, Technical Officer, Health Information Systems, World Health Organization, Lao People’s Democratic Republic
DHIS2 was developed as a collaborative research project between the University of Oslo and the University of Western Cape in one district in Cape Town, South Africa, in the mid-1990s. From that one district, the DHIS2 community has grown to a passionate global community of donors, NGO staff, researchers, and program managers with core development managed by the Health Information Systems Program at the University of Oslo.
You can join the DHIS2 community here: community.dhis2.org.