Assessment of immunization data management practices in Cameroon: unveiling potential barriers to immunization data quality
Saidu Y., Gu J., Ngenge BM., Nchinjoh SC., Adidja A., Nnang NE., Muteh NJ., Zambou VM., Mbanga C., Agbor VN., Ousmane D., Njoh AA., Flegere J., Diack D., Wiwa O., Montomoli E., Clemens SAC., Clemens R.
Abstract Background One crucial obstacle to attaining universal immunization coverage in Sub-Saharan Africa is the paucity of timely and high-quality data. This challenge, in part, stems from the fact that many frontline immunization staff in this part of the world are commonly overburdened with multiple data-related responsibilities that often compete with their clinical tasks, which in turn could affect their data collection practices. This study assessed the data management practices of immunization staff and unveiled potential barriers impacting immunization data quality in Cameroon. Methods A descriptive cross-sectional study was conducted, involving health districts and health facilities in all 10 regions in Cameroon selected by a multi-stage sampling scheme. Structured questionnaires and observation checklists were used to collect data from Expanded Program of Immunization (EPI) staff, and data were analyzed using STATA VERSION 13.0 (StataCorp LP. 2015. College Station, TX). Results A total of 265 facilities in 68 health districts were assessed. There was limited availability of some data recording tools like vaccination cards (43%), maintenance registers (8%), and stock cards (57%) in most health facilities. Core data collection tools were incompletely filled in a significant proportion of facilities (37% for registers and 81% for tally sheets). Almost every health facility (89%) did not adhere to the recommendation of filling tally sheets during vaccination; the filling was instead done either before (51% of facilities) or after (25% of facilities) vaccinating several children. Moreso, about 8% of facilities did not collect data on vaccine administration. About a third of facilities did not collect data on stock levels (35%), vaccine storage temperatures (21%), and vaccine wastage (39%). Conclusion Our findings unveil important gaps in data collection practices at the facility level that could adversely affect Cameroon’s immunization data quality. It highlights the urgent need for systematic capacity building of frontline immunization staff on data management capacity, standardizing data management processes, and building systems that ensure constant availability of data recording tools at the facility level.