Health dept streamlines data

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Cape Town - Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi has announced that the days of using "conflicting and controversial data" in his department are over.

This follows the release on Thursday of a much awaited report by the Health Data Advisory and Co-ordination Committee, which was set up a year ago to gather accurate health data for the department.

The committee comprised government departments, researchers, statisticians and universities among others.

It set out to identify and review key indicators for monitoring the Negotiated Service Delivery Agreement (NSDA) and tracking progress on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

It was also tasked with strengthening vital statistics, national population based health surveys and routine health information and setting targets for the department by year 2014.

The committee which worked independently from the department looked at indicators such as life expectancy, child and maternal mortality, HIV and Aids and Tuberculosis (TB).

The study by the committee has revealed that life expectancy in 2009 was at 56.5 years and should improve to 58.5 years by 2014.

The under-five mortality rate has been targeted to go down by 10 percent. It was at 56 per 1 000 live births two years ago.

The committee's report also set current baselines and targets to be met by 2014 on the fight against diseases such as HIV and Aids and TB.

For example, it said that the mother-to-child transmission of HIV was set to come down to 2 percent by 2014, from 3.6 percent in 2010.

The proportion of eligible HIV positive pregnant women who were on anti-retroviral therapy (ART) was 22 percent in 2010 and the target was to increase it to 80 percent.

The total number of patients (adults and children) on ART was estimated to be 1.1 million in 2010 and set to rise to 2.5 million.

The proportion of TB treatment success among all cases was benchmarked at 85 percent, up from 64 percent in 2009.

The report recommended that the department should keep on setting targets, in particular child mortality rates, by comparing with survey and census data.

It said that there should be a strategy for strengthening the health information system.

Motsoaledi thanked the committee for its work and indicated that they would use the information to meet the department's targets. He was happy with the report, saying that the days of using confusing and contradicting data were over.