What Stands the Test of Time with Dominic Atweam of Ghana Health Services

Aid, Evolved
What Stands the Test of Time with Dominic Atweam of Ghana Health Services

After more than 15 years in Ghana Health Services, Dominic Atweam has seen all the major digital health systems in Ghana come and go. But one system withstands the test of time: DHIS2 (or “DHIMS2” as it is branded in Ghana). 

Dominic was a key actor in the decision by Ghana Health Services (GHS) to adopt DHIS2. In this walk through history, Dominic retells how he first learned about the system, how he launched it on a shoestring budget, and the reason why it continues to be used so widely in Ghana today. 

Dominic was a Health Information Systems Expert for over a decade within the Division of Policy, Planning, Monitoring, and Evaluation (PPME), the Division of GHS charged with oversight on digital health deployments in Ghana. He recently joined the World Health Organization to continue promoting effective health information systems use at all levels of the Ministry of Health.

Show Notes

  • DHIS2 (District Health Information Software 2) is an Open Source software tool used to collect and report on population-level health data. In Ghana, the web portal is branded as DHIMS2 and the smartphone application has been branded as eTracker. It has been cited as a success story by UNICEF’s Sean Blaschke, Liz Peloso, and others.
  • PPME (Policy, Planning, Monitoring, and Evaluation) is the Directorate of Ghana Health Services (GHS) charged with oversight of Monitoring and Evaluation efforts in GHS. As such, it also overseas all digital health work in Ghana. With PPME is CHIM, the Center for Health Information Management. Among other things, CHIM administers DHIS2 within Ghana.
  • The University of Oslo hosts the Health Information Systems Programme (HISP) which coordinates and promotes DHIS2 globally. They offer many resources, including DHIS2 Academy.
  • BLN (the BID Learning Network): Dominic cites this as one resource he uses in order to stay up to date on the industry. The BID Learning Network is a pan-African learning community built to share experiences implementing electronic immunization registries, data management systems, change management approaches, and data use policies and practices. It was founded under the BID Initiative and Global Director Liz Peloso
  • CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention): is the national public health agency of the United States. Its mandate is both locally within the United States, as well as global. It is a lead implementer on various American programs targeting the prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS and as such is a major source of financing for health and development programs in Africa.
  • Oracle is an American multinational technology company most known for its popular database and also for its purchase of Sun Microsystems. This makes it the owner of the official implementation of Java, one of the most popular programming languages in the world.
  • OpenMRS is an open source electronic medical record system designed for low-resource countries. It has been used in more than 80 countries worldwide.
  • MTN and Vodafone are major telecommunications companies active in Ghana (similar to AT&T in the USA). Top technical talent in countries like Ghana often opt to work for such “telcos” rather than join the public or non-profit service.
  • The Runaway Jury by John Grisham: To relax after work, Dominic enjoys reading classic John Grisham novels, such as the legal thriller The Runaway Jury.