DHIS2 is a database tool for the collection, management, validation, analysis, and presentation of aggregate statistical data. It is designed to function as a district-based country data warehouse to address both local and national needs. In the field, data collection projects utilize servers provided by commercial hosting companies through cloud computing. Users connect to the server through the Internet provided by mobile connectivity or wireless technology (WiFi). Data management and analytic services are supported by implementing partners such as NGOs, in concert with a national health organization or ministry.
The District Health Information System (DHIS) was first implemented in South Africa to enable district health managers and health workers to gather and analyze local data. Prior to its deployment in a regional pilot, users agreed on a common data set. The achievement of simple, practical results in two South African provinces sparked interest from other provinces and later at the national level. The use of DHIS showed that for the first time, data could be uniformly collected and compared across black and white population groups, urban and rural areas, rich and poor, in two provinces previously divided into black homelands, “coloured”, and white administrative areas.
DHIS2 has been used for many types of projects: HIV/AIDS reporting in Africa; tracking humanitarian relief following a disaster; malaria treatment in Cambodia; Ebola reporting in Liberia; disease surveillance across 15 countries in West Africa; developing an emergency medical rescue service in South Africa; family planning and immunizations in India. While initially designed to cover nearly all aspects of health data and information, DHIS2 more recently been used by other sectors such as education, water and sanitation, forestry, and food security. The shared data warehouse for local health districts and the national center reduces redundant data collection and improves data quality with local use and feedback.
DHIS2 is, on the one hand, a free and open source software platform for the collection, management, analysis, and use of health data. It also represents a community of developers, implementers, users, and researchers who constitute the Health Information Systems Programme (HISP) affiliated research and development network. The HISP/DHIS project has spread to other countries: first to India and Mozambique in 1999 and later on to others in Africa and Asia. Today, DHIS2 is the basis of the national health care system in more than 60 countries.The future development of DHIS2 is closely tied to this community of users, developers, and implementers. Independent HISP nodes exist in India, South Africa, West Africa, Nigeria, Tanzania, Uganda, and Vietnam.