Research is an academic tool for the advancement of knowledge and practice in all human endeavors. Earl (2016) conceptualized research as a systematic inquiry to describe, explain, predict and control the observed phenomenon. Research brings about essential changes for the development of any nation. The required changes in Health Information Management (HIM) entails formulation of related policies and regulation on education and practice in health sector. This paper highlights the position of research among HIM Professionals in the African Region – issues, challenges and prospects.
The issues in form of questions are: what are the positions of HIM researcher towards influencing government affairs in the region? Do HIM professionals carry out scientific research that could stand the test of time? To what extent does the governments feel the impact of HIM research activities?
The challenges includes weak educational drive, misplacement of priority, poor funding, and inadequate HIM educational structure to mention but a few.
The prospects of HIM research in the region of Africa include measuring health sector performance, providing quality data to determine educational standard, assist in policy direction of governments and enhance standardization of medical practice. Governments assurance of informed Planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of its programs and projects (Lawal, & Oluwatoyin, 2011) .
Discussion: The Staff strength of HIM professionals in Africa, for example Nigeria is about 35,000 and are found more at the operational level than at the tactical, strategic level or at the academic circle in the Universities. This therefore, informed a positional research setback and more palpable in all the developing Countries across the globe. Literature has shown that most of the research works being carried out are mere academic exercise for the purpose of bagging a certificate(Abdullahi, A. A., Senekal, A., Zyl-Schalekamp, V. C., Amzat, J & Saliman, T.,2012). Pat Utomi (2018), at an international conference in Nigeria, opined that Nigeria (the giant of Africa) has about 170 public Universities but are rated almost the last in Africa in terms of research outcome and implementation for National development. Despite that no single University is offering BSc. HIM; why? May be because of the limited interest/ignorance or misplaced priority; although private Universities are taking the lead. Babcock University has produced 7 PhD holders in Nigeria as at 2017. Ghana, Botswana , Kenya and Tanzania have started making headway. Observation and records also shows that the academic staff of Universities are promoted only based on the number of articles they publish in academic journals or else remain stagnated but unfortunately HIM Schools in most countries of the African Region are termed Monotechnics and being managed under State Ministries of Health and Teaching Hospitals, which is service oriented organizations (Orbach, (2001). As a result of these, research work by HIM professionals are not determinants of their promotion.
It is difficult to say that the governments of Africa feels the impact of HIM research finding or recommendation. Scholars like Obikeze (1979); Jimoh (1998); Omodia (2006); Kamba (2008); Dauda (2010); Odia and Omofonmwan (2013) and Mapolisa & Mafa (2013) identified the problems bedevilling the progress of research in Nigeria, could be viewed under the following categories : Absence of a clear cut philosophy of national development , Cultural and Ethical Issues, and political atmosphere Achebe, C. (1958)in his book ”things fall apart” opined that if the appropriate personnel were not put in place, the centre cannot hold. Example is that no single HIM professional was ever made a Director of planning, research and statistics at the apex Federal Ministry of Health or as a Minister of Health from 1960 to date despite the fact that the Health Records Officers Registration Board of Nigeria was established since 1989 through degree 39 to regulate the training and practice of the profession.
Literature, observations and experience were used to determine the issues, challenges and prospects of HIM research position in African Region. The issues, challenges and prospects of HIM research are all manmade, although HIM knowledge managers if identified could bring about the desired changes and set the stage for Health sector innovations in Nigeria as a case study(Kamba,2008). Having known the University and Monotechnic status in Africa, IFHIMA, being the global voice of HIM profession in official relationship with WHO could influence the country governments to accord HIM research the priority it deserves.
Babale G. N.1 BSc (HIM), BSc (Data Mgt), MHPM, MSc (I. T.) ; Paul A. Oyebanji2 BSc (HIM), PGD (Edu), MHIM; Babagana A. K. G. 3BSc (Anatomy & Physiology), PGD (Edu)
1,2,3 School of Health Information Management , University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital, PMB 1414, Maiduguri