Dr. Tove Ryman: Digital tools usher in a data revolution for health workers on the front lines

By Tara Newton, Communications Officer, BID Initiative

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Photo: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation/John Healey. Dr. Tove Ryman, a Senior Program Officer at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, views vaccination records during a visit to the Mahatma Gandhi Clinic in Livingstone, Zambia.

This blog series launches the BID Story, and recounts our journey to design, develop, and implement data quality and use interventions in Tanzania and Zambia between 2014 and 2018.

With the tap of her finger, Neema Temu can easily toggle between two estimates of immunization coverage within her catchment area. A health worker at Monduli Hospital in Arusha, Tanzania, she cheerfully demonstrates her new electronic immunization registry to Dr. Tove Ryman—Senior Program Officer at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and technical lead of the BID Initiative.

Where Neema could once only estimate the number of children in her area using outdated census data, thanks to BID, she can now also evaluate immunization coverage based on the number of children registered at birth in her catchment area. The result: a much more accurate picture of her progress as a vaccinator. And, as she stated during Dr. Ryman’s February 2017 visit, the two coverage estimates paint divergent pictures of her progress. One gives her the false impression that she’s doing a great job, missing very few kids. The more accurate BID data provide a more sober assessment, with still too many kids going unimmunized.

For Dr. Ryman, this interaction marked a pivotal moment—one where her work to bring better immunization data to low-resource settings started to materialize in a tangible way. And it proved that, not only were the data quality and use interventions spearheaded by BID and country governments feasible, health workers had begun to embrace them as well.

“Despite having only used the electronic immunization registry for a few weeks, Neema was comfortable with it and the data it generated,” Dr. Ryman recalls. “It’s evidence of what’s possible.”

To read the full profile, visit the BID Story.

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Original author: Celina Kareiva
 

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Wednesday, 26 June 2019