Data and Capacity Strengthening: The First Step Towards Better Health Outcomes

Data and Capacity Strengthening: The First Step Towards Better Health Outcomes

This is the first blog in a series to showcase D4I work. Here we introduce you to the project and its role as the foundation to improved health outcomes in countries around the world.

What is D4I?

Data for Impact (D4I) is a USAID-funded project that supports countries to generate and use high-quality health and other development sector data to improve programs, policies, and—ultimately—health outcomes. D4I has worked in over 20 countries and builds on the lessons learned from MEASURE Evaluation.

Who is D4I?

D4I is implemented by a consortium led by the University of North Carolina’s Carolina Population Center and includes ICF, John Snow, Inc. (JSI), Tulane University, and The Palladium Group. It works with country partners to conduct research and strengthen local capacity to collect and use data.

Why is D4I’s work important?

Data generation, data use, and capacity strengthening activities create the foundation upon which solid public health programs and policies are built. Without the ability to collect or use data, informed decisions can’t be made. Informed decisions help build effective public health policies and programs, which ultimately lead to better health outcomes.

“Effective data collection and analysis allow you to direct scarce resources where they are most needed,” notes Dr. Jessica Fehringer, D4I’s Director.

What kinds of activities does D4I carry out?

D4I conducts a variety of activities including evaluation of health projects, developing and testing new research tools and methods, supporting the strengthening of health information systems, and ensuring data quality.

D4I works with country partners to strengthen individual and institutional capacity to generate and use high-quality data, investigate program effectiveness, and learn from evidence. The scope of D4I work is set by USAID Headquarters and Missions.

What is capacity strengthening and why is it important?

At the foundation of D4I’s approach is its recognition that individuals and institutions have existing capacity and should lead their own capacity strengthening. D4I’s role is to assist with assessing, planning, and implementing strategies to strengthen or enhance current abilities.

D4I works with its partners to establish a shared understanding of their capacity in four overarching areas:

  • Human Resources: staffing, design, and leadership
  • Organization Resources: operations and management, communications, and work plan development
  • Technology: electronic data capture and storage and analysis tools and skills
  • Data collection, analysis, and use: fieldwork planning, data collection, data analysis and report writing, and dissemination.

Partners set their own priorities for capacity strengthening in these four functional areas, and D4I adds opportunities for learning and training, coaching, and mentoring. D4I uses a “learn by doing” approach, working in partnership with local institutions to generate evidence, ensure data quality, integrate gender, and promote data use.

What’s an example of how D4I’s work led to better health or policy outcomes?

In Bangladesh, a large amount of available survey data exists, yet it is under-utilized. D4I noticed this and came up with strategies to use it for program policy and planning beyond the basic survey report findings.

“D4I’s work is aimed at addressing this gap by conducting further analyses of survey data to provide more in-depth information to inform various health policy and program planning processes of the Government of Bangladesh, USAID/Bangladesh, and other Bangladesh health sector partners” notes Dr. Siân Curtis, D4I’s Principal Investigator.

D4I is currently co-leading—alongside USAID’s Research for Decision Makers Project/icddr,b and with the Directorate General of Family Planning of the Bangladesh Ministry of Health DGFP Bangladesh—an implementation research study.

The study will assess if providing (1) counseling on post-partum family planning (PPFP) during ante-natal care (ANC) visits and (2) family planning methods during delivery can increase acceptance and use of PPFP. This study is based on findings from previous analyses led by MEASURE Evaluation and D4I. [1]

“The findings from the current PPFP implementation study may lead to a change in policy to systematically conduct PPFP counseling during ANC visits and to offer family planning methods during deliveries, resulting in birth-spacing and limiting as per a woman’s choice, and ultimately leading to better maternal and child health outcomes,” notes Dr. Mizanur Rahman, D4I Senior Research Associate in Bangladesh.

To stay up to date on D4I projects and activities, sign up for D4I’s Quarterly E-newsletter.