The APO Book Launch: The Use of routine health information systems for policy-making in decentralized countries: Comparing Indonesia and the Philippines

Meeting Organizer

Nima Asgari-Jirhandeh

26 January 2024

14:30 - 15:00 hrs.

Venue : Special Event Area

Open to All Participants


Health information systems provide health system planners and managers with the data required to make informed decisions across the health system. Among the diverse components of HIS, the routine health information system (RHIS) focuses only on data for services provided by health facilities. A robust and reliable RHIS is essential for disease surveillance, health service quality control, and effective resource mobilization. There is a broad perception that RHIS data are largely underutilized and obstacles to its use can be classified as behavioural (e.g. limited RHIS knowledge and skills), technical (e.g. suboptimal system design), and organizational factors (e.g. delayed feedback from the central government). Authors for the book examined how policy-makers in two Middle income, decentralised countries in the Asia-Pacific region use RHIS data to inform their decisions and the limiting factors that interfere with its utilization and implementation. Interviews conducted in both countries revealed that RHIS data are widely used for planning and implementing health programmes. Data from RHIS also played an essential role in monitoring and evaluation (M&E) activities, priority-setting, and advocacy efforts, at times in combination with data generated from other sources. The book also highlights barriers facing RHIS data users, be it technical problems such as lack of equipment or interoperability issues. organizational issues such as weak cross-sectoral coordination make it difficult for decision-makers to use RHIS data, and behavioural challenges at both the national and subnational levels which included lack of competency and unwillingness to use RHIS. Some of these challenges were exacerbated during the COVID-19 pandemic, as financial and non-financial resources were allocated predominantly to COVID-19 although, RHIS was also reported to be used for crisis response (e.g. contact tracing and vaccination), and the value of RHIS was recognized more by health policy-makers because of COVID-19. The final chapter of the book, identified ways forward to improve use of RHIS.