Making data work for the most deprived children in Djibouti
UNICEF has developed the Equitable Impact Sensitive Tool (EQUIST), a web-based tool to help countries identify and compare the impact of health and nutrition interventions to address issues affecting children. EQUIST was designed for countries suffering from the highest levels of child and maternal mortality and countries with remaining pockets of exclusion to reinforce evidence-based planning based on considerations of equity and impact.
As an initial step to the implementation of the tool within countries, UNICEF is focusing on building the capacity of MENA Country Offices, Ministries of Health and partners in using the tool to undertake equity-informed planning and programme design, service delivery and policy dialogue. Ultimately the aim is to equip and empower national decision makers with evidence to make sound decisions and policies which strengthen national health systems and lead to Universal Health Coverage.
As part of the country-level roll-out of EQUIST, UNICEF is holding a series of capacity-building and advocacy workshops for early riser countries in the MENA region, including Sudan, Djibouti, Egypt, Tunisia and Morocco.
Workshop in Djibouti
The workshop on Equity-Informed Planning held in Djibouti from 22 May- 24 May 2017, introduced the web-based tool to 25 participants from the Djibouti Ministry of Health, UNICEF, WHO, UNFPA and NGOs who had previously been extensively exposed to conducting bottleneck analysis.
“Through the practical exercises during the workshop, health policy makers and planners were able to identify the most deprived populations in Djibouti and plan impactful and cost-effective strategies in order to reduce inequities and raise the levels of coverage for the most deprived populations’ stated Ndeye Fatou Ndiaye, Child Survival and Development Specialist from UNICEF’s Regional Office in Amman, who co-facilitated the workshop.
Thus, the use of EQUIST provided participants with an additional tool to utilize data to visualise inequities through maps and graphs, assess the key bottlenecks for deprived populations to access health services, identify the causes of bottlenecks, and refine priority strategies, to address causes and effectively reach the unreached. Beyond capacity-building on the use of EQUIST and equity-informed planning, the workshop also provided a forum to discuss data gaps and advocate for more data to highlight inequities affecting children in Djibouti.
Workshop results and next steps
Participants from the Ministry of Health left the workshop energised and keen to use EQUIST in order to develop the country’s National Health Plan for 2018–2022. They have already outlined next steps to use EQUIST more widely in Djibouti. This includes a timeline to complete, validate and verify the Djibouti database using recent surveys, to compile and circulate disaggregated data from existing data sources and to plan for data collection exercises to fill data gaps. Participants also highlighted the use of EQUIST as an innovative platform to link with other tools which are complementary, in order to develop most robust and evidence-based national plans.
‘Building on our excellent long term relationship with the Ministry of Health, this workshop enabled us to analyse the health and nutrition situation of the population, in particular vulnerable groups; to plan and budget appropriate interventions for specific vulnerable groups and estimate the impact of interventions on the health system and the number of lives saved. This analysis will position the Government of Djibouti to strategically implement a mix of interventions that is likely to yield the best results in terms of offering the children of Djibouti a healthy future” said Alexandra Illmer, UNICEF Deputy Representative.
‘Based on the initial analysis with the EQUIST tool, an active discussion is developing among workshop participants to further reinforce evidence-based programming. Participants had realized how data can be effectively utilized in order to guide the formulation of health and nutrition strategies‘ she continued.
EQUIST has thus proven its value as a platform to not only analyse data, identify bottlenecks and to estimate the impact of different health/nutrition interventions, but also to generate fruitful discussions on the use of data in planning processes as a means to achieve Universal Health Coverage and accelerate progress on reducing child and maternal mortality.