It might not be the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about life-saving health care but data is essential to the success of the programmes we support.
We recently visited Lesotho to work with local development partner, Riders for Health (Riders) who had been reporting some issues with collecting data.
Data is needed to track and analyse the effects of the programmes we support. It's by looking at data that we can see, for example, how many samples are collected and successfully transferred to laboratories. We need it to see whether important results are returned to the health centres.
It's data that helps maintain fleets of vehicles to a high standard. For instance, we know that Suzuki DR200 requires an oil change every 5,000km and because we know this we can trigger a message when the motorcycle nears this to schedule an oil change.
The health workers in the Riders programmes showed us how their current data collection methods were causing them problems. After travelling to remote places to work they needed to write information down on paper forms. They then needed to deliver these to the central office, a great distance away, where they then had to be entered manually into a computer. It's not suprising that all this takes time and leaves plenty of room for hold ups and errors.
Throughout 2018 we'll be working with Riders to trial new digital tools with a small group of health workers. Over the next few months they will start using mobile apps which update in real time and new computer-based visuals that mean we can better analyse information about health outcomes and fleet management.
We hope to improve the ease of use as well as accuracy of data collection and reduce the time and cost to the programme.
We hope that eventually Riders for Health will be able to let partners like the Ministry of Health in Lesotho know if out-of-the-ordinary volumes of samples are being collected in a particular place. This could even mean they will be able to alert their networks to potential outbreaks of a disease.
By Two Wheels for Life staff