Equity and Social Determinants of Health in Health Information Systems
This initiative is carried out by the Social Research Center of The American University in Cairo (SRC-AUC), in collaboration with the faculty of Health Sciences in The American University of Beirut (FHS-AUB) and with support from the International Development Research Center (IDRC) of Canada.
The project moves the current narrow framing of Health Information System (HIS) into a broader framing that captures the Social Determinants of Health (SDH) as the root cause of inequity in health status. The project is divided into three phases.
- The first phase covers a conceptualization and development of indicators
- The second phase is the engagement of pertinent stakeholders in Morocco, Jordan, and relevant applications
- The third phase covers wider regional dissemination and outreach, as well as documentation efforts
The second and third phases will be implemented in parallel, with more emphasis on implementation in the second phase and on regional dissemination in the third phase.
The Health Information System (HIS), when adequately conceptualized and developed, can support both policy and program level changes. This is carried out through the development of two packages of indicators one for policy level and the other for program level.
At the policy level, the proposed package of indicators aims to support the building of the whole government’s commitment and wider participation of key stakeholders in addressing the inequitable distribution of health. The proposed package of indicators will guide the movement from a healthcare preventive modeled by the health sector to a health equity promotion model led jointly by social and health sectors.
At the program level, the proposed package aims to ensure that program planning and implementation are recognizing the root causes of the disadvantage in the targeted groups and are adopting a participatory multisectoral collaborative model. With an application on a specific reproductive health program, the proposed package of indicators supports the incorporation of the missing social dimensions of health and very much needed structural determinants of gender equity in the planning and implementation of interventions.
The research project seeks to strengthen the role of HIS in guiding policy change and improving the effectiveness of health programs for the purpose of achieving health equity. The project supports policy-level changes, as well as guides program implementation.
The main objective is to adopt a social framing and a set of indicators in HIS, and to support relevant stakeholders to utilize them towards advocating for health equity and implementing the social determinants of health (SDH) approach in policies and programs. The project also demonstrates the potential of the proposed HIS to inform implementation by engaging with programs addressing a specific sexual and reproductive health (SRH) challenge.
More specifically, the project aims to:
- Guide policies through:
- Proposing an information system for health that allow measuring, tracking and summarizing health inequalities across relevant dimensions of social groupings
- Expanding the coverage of the information system to capture structural determinants and actions on the distribution of these determinants
- Developing capacities to manage and utilize HIS to inform policies and guide actions
- Giving visibility to social inequalities in health and supporting informed public demand for just alternatives, monitoring and accountability
- Support program implementation with an equity lens through:
- Promoting the application of the developed HIS on a specific SRH program in two countries of the region through
- Ensuring adoption of gender and rights approaches and clear consideration of equity dimensions in each implemented program