Data Analysis: More than numbers
Every number has a story to tell. India HIV/AIDS Alliance follows a robust strategic information system built into its programs, translating the data to take informed decisions and improving the program helping it move closers to achieving its objectives and consequentially supporting communities. Nirantar (meaning, relentless), is an India HIV/AIDS Alliance initiative, supported by the United States of America Government’s, President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). Nirantar, complements through one of its activities the National AIDS Control Program (NACP) phase IV, and is designed in line with National AIDS Control Organization (NACO) priority of establishing a robust Strategic Information and Management System (SIMS).
Niranatar analyzes the national HIV program, targeted intervention (TI) data, from three states, Chhattisgarh, Odisha and Madhya Pradesh, and the key objective of the program is to enable error free, system generated analysis of the data and evaluate the program such as the uptake of TI services in the hotspots or areas where the high-risk communities or key populations (KP) are concentrated, it provides evidences to assess whether the TI programs are reaching out where there is a clear and higher need, or are we optimally utilizing our resources to achieve maximum impact and thus informing the TI on how to improve and strengthen service delivery.
However, there were several challenges that needed to be addressed such as the fact that data is most often not available in computers but remains at the site in hard copies in the reporting system. There is clear lack of standardization among the reporting units, such as in each state and TI, despite guidelines codes are different. There are discrepancies in the data collection, leading to incomplete and erroneous data that is being shared with the Nirantar team which is making meticulous analysis and corrections, before it can be used as evidence to plan and design programs.
The Nirantar realizing the gap in data and lack of capacity and standardization at the field level undertook detailed discussions with NACO, SACS and respective Technical Support Units (TSU), agreed that three reports, the KP master register, individual KP tracking sheet and individual service tracking register, would be shared with the project. The Nirantar team further organized trainings for TI program managers, monitoring and evaluation (M&E) Officers in all the three states and trained them on data management, review and correction techniques. This was followed up with another workshop where demonstration of data correction exercises were undertaken and data till September 2016 was finalized. Further, the project teams also visited some of the TI offices and provided individual support for data entry and correction.
A software application is being developed under the program to analyze data at different levels, in the state, district, TI and hotspots, which will be imported in geographical information systems (GIS) platform and monitored in real time by stakeholders in NACO and SACS.
Improving management of information is crucial to ensure the well-being of individuals and communities living in higher risks to HIV/AIDS and well informed program is the key.
This blog is written by Deepa Rose, Knowledge Management Specialist: Nirantar. Deepa has nearly 15 years of experience in the development sector, especially, in gender issues, human rights and community development and mobilization and has worked extensively with the Targeted Interventions (TI) program under the national HIV program.