Developing a primary health care management information system that supports the pursuit of equity, effectiveness and affordability

Document Type



Community Health Sciences


A key set of goals of primary health care (PHC) includes equity, effectiveness and affordability. By equity, we mean universal coverage and care according to need; by effectiveness, that the system has a favorable impact on mortality and serious morbidity; by affordability, that the system is within the budgetary reach of government and communities. There are other requirements of PHC as well: that the system be socially and culturally acceptable, and that communities are active participants in the development and implementation of the system. Further, the PHC system should be compatible with larger system of a region or country, and possibly serve as a prototype for the development of larger health systems. With these requirements in mind, the Aga Khan University has developed a series of community-based, urban PHC systems, each serving a population of about 10,000, in the katchi abadis (squatter settlements) of Karachi. These communities are severely deprived, with high infant, child and maternal mortality rates. The PHC systems are designed to achieve equity, effectiveness and affordability, and within 3-5 years have advanced substantially toward those goals. A key factor in those developments has been the management information system (MIS), which has served as a basis for planning, managing and evaluating the PHC systems. Central questions about such an MIS are: What kind of MIS design is necessary to support the pursuit of those goals? What problems arise in the MIS as such a system is implemented? What kinds of changes and adaptations need to be considered in the MIS as the PHC system itself matures? What does the PHC system cost, and what part of the total cost of the PHC system is attributable to the MIS? How practical is this kind of MIS, developed in small prototype PHC systems, for replicability in larger health systems? What are the possibilities and requirements for simplification in order to be used in health systems that are less intensively managed? The experience of AKU in Pakistan in the development of PHC systems, with associated management information systems, helps to answer these questions.


Social Science and Medicine