Who Is HISP?

HISP (Health information Systems Program) is a global network of people, entities and organisations that design, implement and sustain Health Information Systems.  As a network, HISP globally follows a participatory approach to support local management of healthcare delivery and information flows, and was established by the Department of Informatics at the University of Oslo.

HISP South Africa is a Section 21 not-for-profit non-governmental organisation (NPO/NGO) that specialises in the development and maintenance of health information systems – a member of the global HISP network. While we use computers and databases to capture and analyse information, we recognise that good paper-based data collection forms are the backbone for most computerised systems. Since our establishment in 2003, we have been innovating and implementing both paper-based and computerised systems for primary health care (PHC) and hospitals mainly in resource constrained settings.  We believe that health care data must be used for management purposes.  We support people who work at all levels in the health system hierarchy from data collectors in clinics and hospitals, to information managers and decision/policy makers at health district and national levels.

While our team is based across numerous centres in South Africa, we also support health information systems development in other countries in Africa. We have partnered with local organisations, universities, and ministries of health in Namibia, Botswana, Nigeria, Southern Sudan, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Liberia, Uganda, DRC (in French) and in South East Asia (India and Myanmar), and through these partnerships have developed local teams of health information practitioners.

We have a staff compliment of more than 50 full time staff: – this interalia includes a software development team of 9, a database management team of 10, a health information systems support- and training team of 27 full time staff members. We are supported by a competent administrative team of 6 who oversee project budget allocations and funding.

Our staff have expertise in many facets of information systems and health care.  We have medical doctors, nurses, social scientists, computer experts and informatics staff who all work together in a team approach. The qualifications in our team include PHDs, Masters, Honours, and bachelor degrees in Informatics, computer programming, and nursing science.  Our team is led by a Medical Specialist who also holds a PhD in Information Management, and HISP management reports to a board of directors.

Our Vision

Development and implementation of sustainable and integrated Health Information Systems that empower communities, healthcare workers and decision makers to improve the coverage, quality and efficiency of health services.

Our Mission

HISP adopts a broad based, developmental approach to capacity building and support of communities, healthcare workers and decision makers for improving health information systems.

In partnership with ministries of health, universities, NGOs and private companies, we support integration of information systems through open standards and data exchange mechanisms.

Focusing on local solutions for developing country contexts, we subscribe to the Free and Open Source philosophy of sharing our products such as training materials and software solutions.  We promote access to and use of information for action.

HISP South Africa Board Members

Chairperson Dr. Jon Rohde
Deputy Chair
Directors MS. Lokiwe Mtwaza
Prof. David Sanders
Dr. Andy Beke
Dr. Lyn Hanmer
Dr. Andrew McKenzie
Dr. Vincent Shaw

The Pilot Years

HISP started as a local project in three health districts in the Western Cape in 1994.  The RDP, NHISSA and previous relations between Norway and South Africa during the Struggle all played a role in initiating the project.  NORAD (the Norwegian Agency for Development) provided funding for the first phase (1996-98), which included a range of successful processes and tools in the pilot districts that were later rolled out to the whole of the Western Cape.  Key examples were:

  • the development of an Essential Data Set for Primary Health Care; and
  • the development of the District Health Information Software (DHIS);
  • in addition, systematic training of managers at all levels was initiated.

The results from the pilot project were regarded as highly successful, and the National Health Information Systems Committee for South Africa (NHISSA) adopted HISP processes and the DHIS software as a national standard in early 1999.  DHIS was rolled out to the other eight provinces during 1999 and 2000, partially funded by the SA Government and partially by the USAID-funded EQUITY project.

The use of the DHIS was again expanded in 2000 to cover all public hospitals.  Additional data sets and modules were added in 2001 and 2002.  The support from the USAID-funded EQUITY project between 1999 and 2003 allowed HISP to:

  • appoint and train consultants, and initiate the establishment of HISP SA as a non-profit, non-governmental organisation and;
  • establish a core team of information systems designers and programmers – a team which is viewed as the nucleus of a global network dedicated to Free and Open-Source Software (FOSS) for developing countries.

Today the HISP network has developers in Vietnam, India, Tanzania, Norway, Ireland, South Africa and the United States. DHIS of various versions are in use in more than 45 countries worldwide, and is used as an information base with an estimated population footprint of well over 1.5 Billion people globally, and growing.