Integrating administrative databases to improve resource allocation in the Zambian health sector: An application to the spatial distribution of health workers

Policy brief State

  • The Zambian Ministry of Health (MoH) and its partners collect a wide variety of data on health services. However, this information is generally recorded in separate, unlinked datasets that can only be used in isolation from each other.
  • This brief illustrates how the integration of administrative datasets into a single health database can support efficient resource allocation. The spatial distribution of health workers is examined as a concrete example.
  • The shortage of health workers is a particular concern in Zambia. The number of doctors, nurses, and midwives per thousand population is only 0.98 while the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends a minimum of 4.45. Therefore, an efficient and informed use of available human resources is key.
  • Based on the integrated dataset, the researcher finds a large imbalance in population access to health workers across primary care facilities in Zambia, with many imbalances even occurring among different facilities in the same district. This raises concerns regarding both equity and efficiency in the provision of health services and calls for further investigation.
  • Other applications of the database could potentially include informing the development of new facilities, increasing services to existing facilities, monitoring spatial disease patterns, and coordinating health initiatives. Input from local health experts is essential to support the development of such applications.