CARINFONET sets standard for subregional health information networks

WHO

A detailed workplan for the coming years, an initial draft set of common indicators for reporting at sub-national level and a decision to establish an indicator working group were 3 welcome developments from the latest meeting of the CARINFONET (Central Asian Republics Information Network) Steering Group. The workplan sets out clear milestones and deliverables, while the working group will continue work that has already begun on indicators and their metadata. These will be used in a health information database for the central Asian republics. The meeting, held on 28–29 May 2015 in Astana, Kazakhstan, was attended by representatives of various central Asian republics and was opened by Dr Salidat Kairbekova, First Vice-Minister of Health and Social Development of Kazakhstan.

Dr Claudia Stein, Director of the Division of Information, Evidence, Research and Innovation at WHO/Europe, hailed the meeting as "inspiring", saying, "The activities of CARINFONET are clearly highly relevant to the participating countries and I am impressed with the strong commitment shown. This sets a high standard for subregional health information networks."

Aligning health systems with need

CARINFONET was originally founded in 1996 but ceased operations in 2006 due to lack of funding. Activities were resumed following repeated requests by Member States and the decision to revitalize CARINFONET was taken during a high-level meeting in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, in December 2013. CARINFONET aims to collaborate within and across countries in the region of Central Asia to produce relevant, objective and accurate statistics. The goal is to keep users well-informed and assist good policy and decision-making. This can be achieved by strengthening capacities and processes for collection and improving the use and dissemination of health and demographic information. These health statistics are vital for ensuring that health systems are aligned to the health needs of the population they serve.

Sharing experiences

CARINFONET project leader, Ms Natela Nadareishvili (WHO/Europe), walked the participants through targets and indicators of the European Health 2020 and global monitoring frameworks on noncommunicable diseases (NCDs). She was then joined by Dr Anara Eshkhodjaeva, Chair of the CARINFONET Steering Group, and together they facilitated a session on developing a set of common indicators for reporting at subnational level. These indicators will be used to assess progress in achieving framework targets for regional and subregional initiatives.

Prior to the work on indicator selection, Member States shared their experiences of selecting indicators for monitoring implementation of their national policies and strategies, aligned with the goals and directions of Health 2020 and the Political Declaration of the High-level Meeting of the General Assembly on the Prevention and Control of NCDs.

"Countries of CARINFONET have an epidemiological similarity, geographic closeness and common historical and cultural background," explained Ms Nadareishvili. "It was most gratifying to see the value Steering Group members place on exchange of information, expertise and experiences. Meetings like this provide an opportunity to appreciate the diversity of existing projects and systems, to be inspired, to capitalize on collaborative learning and to build long-term approaches and collaborations."