We had the pleasure to have a chat with the Minister about community health and data governance in Zanzibar in Geneva during the World Health Assembly.
What is the Ministry’s top priority for the next few years?
We are looking to deeply strengthen our primary health care by giving tools to community health volunteers so they can manage their work in a professional way. If we do this, I believe our primary health care will be improved and make referrals more effective and ultimately leading to less congestion in hospitals.
In your view, what value does Jami nii Afya bring to the health care system in Zanzibar?
The program has been extremely well received by the Ministry, communities and others in the health sector. The collection of data through Jami nii Afya is very valuable to both the Ministry and others. For example, at the Ministry of Health, we have managed to identify the gaps and as decision-makers we can now make more informed decisions because of the data that is collected every day. Before we had a one size fits all model and believed that what is done in urban areas can be done in rural areas with the same success, but the data made us realize the diverse challenges regions have and tailor our responses accordingly.
What is your vision for community health and data use in Zanzibar?
We need data from the communities up to the referral hospitals and it need to be integrated so that patients’ health history can be identified and monitored through all levels of care. Whenever a patient comes to a centre, their data should be available to the doctor so the doctor can better treat the patient.
I think data is everything, and we at the Ministry of Health are on an exciting journey to better use data. Our next project this year is to establish an IT system which connects all our health facilities to the same system.
When I leave my job I want to have paved the way so that all of this can be achieved. Especially so that we can eliminate maternal mortality. I want my successor to be able to come and easily take over and build on the work we are doing now so that we can achieve all health-related Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. This is a dream, but it is achievable and I believe we can do it if we work together.