Strengthening health systems through HIV monitoring and evaluation in Sub-Saharan Africa.
PURPOSE OF REVIEW: In this review, we describe the challenges faced by using clinical cohorts to perform Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) and the possible solutions for increasing and strengthening health systems in low-income and middle-income countries. RECENT FINDINGS: HIV scale-up has facilitated the transition from paper-based medical records to electronic medical records at hundreds of sites in most of the countries in sub-Saharan Africa and the implementation of national HIV databases. However, National M&E systems in resource-limited settings tend to be chronically challenged by persistently incomplete reporting and inaccurate data, which undermines their usefulness. In low-income and middle-income countries, new information technologies such as Web-based systems and mobile phone networks are expanding rapidly. Their use will improve data quality and, therefore, reduce participant dropout and improve reporting rates. These systems have the potential to allow real time access to summary reports and to integrate data from other settings such as maternal and infant health clinics. SUMMARY: The efforts to address the AIDS pandemic in sub-Saharan Africa will require enhanced information systems. Stronger systems are needed to deliver primary healthcare for those with and without HIV, and it is also essential to build and take advantage of synergies across health information systems.