Routine health information systems (RHIS), based on data reported by health facilities, are an important source of health statistics that feature prominently in national and subnational health plans and program. Multiple indicators generated by the RHIS data can be used to track national and subnational progress towards universal health coverage, often in combination with household survey and other data. Scorecards and dashboards are increasingly popular tools to visualize the statistics based on health facility data, aiming to facilitate the interpretation, communication and use of data.

Countries and development partners have been investing in the improvement of the data generation and use through the RHIS. A notable development is the introduction of the District Health Information System (DHIS), which is an open-source software platform for reporting, quality checks, visualization, analysis and dissemination of data for all health program. From 2010 onwards, an increasing number of countries began to introduce the web-based DHIS2 platform, and today many countries are using this electronic platform.

Common RHIS data-based indicators include causes of death and morbidity patterns among persons using health services, health service utilization and efficiency indicators, as well as a range of program-specific indicators on the coverage of interventions. Several programs such as immunization and HIV have been relying extensively on facility data-based coverage statistics for country and global monitoring.

Studies have shown multiple issues regarding the quality of data generated by health facilities that affect the credibility and utility of RHIS-based statistics at local and national levels. The main challenges are associated with incomplete and inaccurate reporting of events, as well as problems with defining accurate denominators (ie, target populations) for the computation of coverage statistics.

This paper describes the situation in 14 countries in Eastern and Southern Africa in 2017, based on an analysis project involving teams of Ministry of Health and country public health institutions analysts, organized by the African Population Health Research Centre, Countdown to 2030 for Women’s, Children’s and Adolescents’ Health, WHO and UNICEF. The focus was on ‘endline’ analysis where all relevant health facility data are compiled and systematically assessed, including assessment and adjustment for incomplete reporting, detection and correction of extreme outliers, assessment and revision of denominators, comparison with survey-based results and computation of statistics based on the adjusted data set. These analyses were done in MS Excel 2013, using data exported from the DHIS2 country databases.

Click on the link below to access the article.

Manzou Diarra, born premature, is in good health thanks to kangaroo mother care. He is 4 months old. Photo credit: Amadou Keita, SSGI/Save the Children.

Prematurity is one of the leading causes of newborn deaths. In Mali, 29% of neonatal deaths are due to babies born before 37 weeks of gestation (CHERG 2010). Kangaroo Mother Care (KMC) is an intervention where the mother carries her baby skin-to-skin at the chest, with breastfeeding support and close monitoring by a health provider. KMC gives a chance to premature babies or those born low birth weight to survive and thrive, especially in countries where access to specialized neonatal care services are still lacking.

Read this success story about the USAID-funded Services de Santé à Grand Impact (SSGI), which supports the Ministry of Health to improve the quality of maternal and newborn health services in Mali through training, supervision and coaching on obstetric and neonatal care, including KMC

Read more by clicking the link below.

Will this precious one survive?

Children born too soon (preterm) or too small are at the highest risk of dying in utero, during birth and in the neonatal period, and also have increased health and development risks throughout their lifetime. Of the 2.5 million neonatal deaths in 2018, over 80% were born too small–of which two thirds are preterm and one third are small for gestational age (SGA).

Quantifying the full burden of affected children born too soon or too small or both is critical for health system response and planning. Estimates of the global, regional and national burden of preterm birth and LBW are especially needed because data for both are sparse and incomplete in many countries. In the past year, The Lancet Global Health has published two new sets of estimates – preterm birth and low birthweight (see facts about each below).

Estimates allow health system stakeholders, policies, and programmes to be better informed, enabling more precise targeting of interventions. Estimates can also be used to raise awareness of the issues as global public health priorities, and can help mobilise resources for research and maternal and child health programs. They also allow for comparison between countries or between countries and regions. Learn more about how estimates can be used at global and national levels here.

Read more by clicking the link below.

Too Precious!

An estimated 15 million babies are born prematurely, before 37 weeks of gestation, every year worldwide. Of those, about 5–6% are born extremely prematurely, before 28 weeks of gestation. Progress in the perinatal care of these babies has continued to improve outcomes in high-income countries.

The British Association of Perinatal Medicine has issued new guidance, Perinatal Management of Extreme Preterm Birth before 27 weeks of gestation. For example, even at the lowest end of viability, at 22 weeks of gestation, 30% of those babies who were given active treatment survived to discharge in cohort studies from Sweden, the US, and Germany. And in the UK, 88% of babies born at 23 weeks of gestation will receive active respiratory care, with 38% surviving to age 1 year.

The guidance offers a welcome new framework for decision making and managing these infants.

#WorldPrematurityDay #Health4all #RMC

Women and adolescent girls have the right to decide whether, when and with whom they want to have children. #genderinequalities still impact the ability of women and girls to achieve good health outcomes and realize their human rights and full potential.
Respectful care before, during and after pregnancy should become a standard.
Give all women and adolescent girls information and access to care, including family planning and knowledge around risk factors.
Implement high quality, equitable healthcare to women and girls, including midwife-led continuity of care, and nutrition throughout their life-course, irrespective of their pregnancy intentions.
Women have the right to access quality care for preterm babies.

Go purple! by wearing purple, lighting your home or office purple, light a purple candle in your window, inviting to a purple meal, or coming up with your own ways to turn the world purple for this day in support of preterm birth awareness. Share on social media with #WorldPrematurityDay.
Hang up a sock-line with 9 (white) baby socks and one smaller (purple) baby sock as a symbol to raise awareness for preterm birth. Share on social media with #WorldPrematurityDay. Host public talks, exhibitions of preemie “sock-lines” in market squares

Have parents of preterm children lead information sessions, create posters and lead public petitions.

Work with staff at hospitals and health facilities to organize a “Week of Purple,” holding education and information sessions, or organizing celebration events for preterm infants.

Make or renew a commitment of action on preterm birth and newborn survival as part of your commitment to the Global Strategy for Women’s, Children’s and Adolescents’ Health through the Every Woman Every Child platform: /commitments

Take the Kangaroo Mother Care Challenge and post photos on social media – with #KMCChallenge and #WorldPrematurityDay


The World Prematurity Day Facebook page is the social media hub for this campaign and is designed to collect and share stories and news and spread messages about World Prematurity Day and preterm birth. We encourage participants to share preterm birth stories from around the world with a post or on this interactive map to help put a face on the issue of preterm birth. The Facebook page will also feature photographs and messages from global events being held around World Prematurity Day. When posting to your social media sites please add in your post @WorldPrematurityDay.

Two key reports from 2019 relating to World Prematurity Day include:
 The report “Nurturing Care for Small and Sick Newborns: Evidence Review and Country Case Studies” ( aims to summarize the evidence and best practices on nurturing care approaches for small and sick newborns focusing on core elements of developmentally supportive care, which is disease-independent but vital to promoting healthy growth and well-being.
 The report “Survive and thrive: transforming care for every small and sick newborn” ( calls for investing in quality inpatient neonatal care and designating facilities for specialized and intensive newborn care. Governments, health professionals, parents and other partners are encouraged to join this movement in supporting continued investment in health systems that respond to the needs of the most vulnerable to achieve the vision of a better world for every mother and newborn.


140 million births per year – 2.5 million neonatal deaths annually!

1 million deaths per year are from #PretermBirth – the leading cause of under-5 child death worldwide. ( 47% of all under-five #child deaths happen during the first 28 days of life.)

The most vulnerable babies are those in marginalized groups, rural areas, urban slum environments and humanitarian settings.
We could prevent 86% of newborn deaths due to prematurity if known solutions reached #EveryNewborn.

Midwife-led continuity of care reduces preterm birth by 24%. #MidwivesMatter

More innovative service-delivery approaches & cost-effective health-care technologies will save lives.

Engage communities around adherence of quality service and access to care, especially amongst the most vulnerable populations

Ensure high quality care for every baby everywhere.

Take action #BornTooSoon