How to make universal health coverage happen through better information sharing and support to evidence-based decision-making? Questioning before implementation of a national health observatory in Burundi

A. Labat, D. Nizigiyimana, D. Nicayenzi, C. Basse, Y. Coppieters.

11th European congress on tropical medicine and international health, 16-20 september 2019, Liverpool, UK


Health data and information are not readily understandable by a wide audience, and many factors limit the capacity of decision-makers to utilise evidence for policymaking in the health sector. Availability, quality and utilisation of health information to improve population’s health is often limited, especially in sub-Saharan Africa. The World Health Organization runs a Global Health Observatory which centralises key data and statistics enabling to give a picture of the health situation worldwide. Countries also produce their own data like censuses, routine and surveillance health data, or Demographic and Health Surveys. Usually information is not centralised and these “raw data” are difficult to use on their own. A “tool” is missing to generate evidence ready to use for policymaking. National Health Observatories (NHOs) could fill that gap.


This study analyses the implementation conditions for a NHO in Burundi.


A literature review enabled to analyse experiences of existing platforms of knowledge transfer, and an open questionnaire addressed to public health professionals (healthcare providers, policymakers, donors, …) in Burundi enabled to collect their expectations, as potential users, regarding health observatories.


NHOs can be a good tool to support decision making if they respect some principles. They have to generate knowledge that is understandable and usable, by combining health data and data from other sectors, so as to give them more meaning. They should have an “active” role to facilitate the utilisation of knowledge in decision processes. They have an important function of mediators to facilitate dialogue between policymakers, researchers and health professionals. Finally, NHOs have to disseminate knowledge to the appropriate public. Potential users questioned in Burundi look for an NHO that would fill the following key missions: high quality data production, political guidance, provision of recommendations based on evidence.


The expectations of potential users in Burundi are very close from what is recommended by the literature. NHO should be a dynamic platform, not just collecting all health data available in the country, but combining them to produce evidence and share it with a wide public. Burundi will soon implement this approach which is also considered in Senegal.