Large-scale disease elimination programs depend critically on the accuracy of data reported back from local implementation sites. WHO and some of its partners recently developed a data quality assessment (DQA) tool specific to efforts to combat neglected tropical diseases (NTDs). A study published in PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases applying the tool to the lymphatic filariasis program in Ghana finds problems with the routinely reported data and suggests ways toward improving their accuracy.
Regular administration of preventive chemotherapy (PC) to at-risk populations is a key step toward elimination of lymphatic filariasis--commonly known as elephantiasis--an NTD still affecting an estimated 40 million people and one of the leading causes of disability worldwide. With funding support from the University of Ghana, Dziedzom de Souza and colleagues from the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research and the School of Public Health in Accra, Ghana, applied the NTD-DQA tool to retrospectively evaluate the quality of data reported for Ghana's lymphatic filariasis program in 2010.
The tool includes a comparison between locally collected data and those reported at the district or country level, as well as the analysis of interviews with data handlers involved in program implementation at the local level. Results of the assessment provide a measure of accuracy of the reported data as well as a plan on how to improve accurate reporting based on a detailed understanding of the local circumstances.
Assessing three implementation sites in Ghana, the researchers compared routinely reported results with recounted values for five different indicators, including number of; tablets received, tablets used, tablets remaining, population treated, and PC coverage. The researchers found that over 60% of the data reported were of low accuracy (i.e., had a higher than 10% difference between the collected and reported data). The only consistent indicator that was accurately reported across the sites was the number of tablets received.
The second part of the assessment, based on the individual interviews, exposed challenges and limitations of the existing data management information systems. The weakest functional area across the sites, the researchers found, was 'data management processes', but the strongest functional areas (such as 'indicator definitions and reporting guidelines', or 'data collection and reporting forms and tools') differed between implementation sites, suggesting that sites can learn from one another.
The present study was a pilot assessment that found the DQA to be "a very useful monitoring and evaluation tool that can be used to elucidate and address data quality issues" for Ghana's NTD programs. As a particularly concerning result, the researchers highlight the overestimation of PC coverage, the core indicator for program performance that affects decisions about continuation or stoppage of the program. They also mention that similar reporting inaccuracies have been found in other countries.
The researchers conclude that "while the results from this study are informative, a more complete assessment of [Ghana's] LF Control Programme (involving the Ministry of Health, the NTD programme and other NTD partners in the country) must be undertaken in order to establish appropriate programmatic responses". They hope that"this study will serve as a starting point to gather support towards a more complete evaluation of country NTD programmes".
Please contact email@example.com if you would like more information about our content and specific topics of interest.
All works published in PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases are open access, which means that everything is immediately and freely available. Use this URL in your coverage to provide readers access to the paper upon publication:
Press-Only Preview Of The Article: https:/
Related Image for Press Use: Dr. Yahathugoda, Filariasis Research Training and Service Unit, Faculty of Medicine, University of Ruhuna, Gall
Contact: Dziedzom Komi de Souza, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, phone: +233.24.443.4966
Pamela Sabina Mbabazi (expert on the NTD-DQA tool) WHO Department of Control of Neglected Tropical Diseases, email: email@example.com, phone: +41.22.791.4588
Funding: This study was funded by the University of Ghana Office for Research Innovation and Development (ORID) grant URF/ 7/ ILG-028/ 2013-2014 to DKdS. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.
About PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases
PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases is a peer-reviewed, open-access journal devoted to the pathology, epidemiology, prevention, treatment, and control of the neglected tropical diseases, as well as public policy relevant to this group of diseases. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like more information about our content and specific topics of interest.
Media and Copyright Information
For information about PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases relevant to journalists, bloggers and press officers, including details of our press release process and embargo policy, visit http://journals.
PLOS Journals publish under a Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits free reuse of all materials published with the article, so long as the work is cited.
About the Public Library of Science
The Public Library of Science (PLOS) PLOS is a nonprofit publisher and advocacy organization founded to accelerate progress in science and medicine by leading a transformation in research communication. For more information, visit http://www.
This press release refers to upcoming articles in PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases. The releases have been provided by the article authors and/or journal staff. Any opinions expressed in these are the personal views of the contributors, and do not necessarily represent the views or policies of PLOS. PLOS expressly disclaims any and all warranties and liability in connection with the information found in the release and article and your use of such information.