The Politics of Health Information and Accountability: An Ethnographic Study of Health Information System Projects in India

C.R. Ranjini
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Adequate information is essential for enhancing accountability. Accountability is a key element in improving health services and information systems can provide necessary support. This paper investigates the relationship between health information, accountability and the process of implementing health information systems (HIS) in primary health sector. This paper derives from a multi-sited ethnographic study of the development and implementation processes of health information systems in primary health care centres in rural Andhra Pradesh, India. Fieldwork was carried out in two districts of Andhra Pradesh between August 2003 and May 2004. Collecting information on health status of the population, record keeping and reporting to various authorities is a central means by which public health authorities attempt to demonstrate accountability. This paper explores the formal and actual methods people adopt to engage in accountability relations. This in turn helps in understanding some of the challenges in introducing HIS in primary healthcare settings in rural India.

Keywords: Health Informatics, Primary Health Care, Accountability in health sector, Health Information Processes, Implementation
Stream: Technology in Community
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
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C.R. Ranjini

Doctoral Candidate, Institute for Women's Studies,, Lancaster University, United Kingdom

I started my career in Financial Express and I then worked with The Indian Express in Bangalore. I have freelanced for The New York Times and a few websites in India. I started my PhD in October 2002. The focus of my research is on understanding the challenges during introduction of information and communication technologies (ICTs)to achieve developmental goals in rural India. The specific focus is the use of new technologies to improve rural health care. I studied four initiatives in the primay health department of Andhra Pradesh. I followed the development and implementation of health information systems in rural health care centres for 10 months by adopting an ethnographic approach. My research interests are - use of ICT in health care, social and health informatics, Gender and ICT for Development.

Ref: T06P0352