Open Access Research article

Data verification at health centers and district health offices in Xiengkhouang and Houaphanh Provinces, Lao PDR

Vanphanom Sychareun1*, Visanou Hansana1, Alongkone Phengsavanh1, Kongmany Chaleunvong2, Ko Eunyoung3 and Jo Durham4

Author Affiliations

1 Faculty of Postgraduate Studies, University of Health Sciences, Vientiane, Lao PDR

2 Faculty of Basic Sciences, University of Health Sciences, Vientiane, Lao PDR

3 WHO Office, Vientiane, Lao PDR

4 School of Population Health, Australia, University of Queensland, Herston, Brisbane, Australia

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BMC Health Services Research 2014, 14:255  doi:10.1186/1472-6963-14-255

Published: 14 June 2014



Routine health information is an essential health system building block. In low and low-middle income countries however, concerns about the quality of routine administrative data have often undermined their use. The purpose of the present study was to verify the data availability, and consistency of six key maternal and child health indicators (first antenatal care, fourth antenatal care, skilled birth attendants, postnatal care, ‘Bacillus Calmette Guerin and diphtheria-pertussis-tetanus third dose).


The study collected data for the identified indicators in 2011 from Xiengkhouang and Houaphanh provinces in the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (PDR). The data came from health centres (N = 109), sub-districts (N = 26) and district health offices (N = 16). Core indicators were calculated using numerators and denominators from the different data sources at the district and health centre level and standardized statistical tests performed.


The study revealed that data for the six indicators were either not available or not complete in the service logbooks or registers in most of the health centres. Furthermore, few health centres kept the data for up to five years, often destroying it once the report had been sent to the district health office. In addition, there was limited numerator consistency between the different data sources.


Data on the six indicators collected and reported in the public health system across the two provinces lacked completeness, accuracy and consistency. To improve the quality of data, there is a need to train health centre staff in data collection and recording as well as ensuring there is adequate monitoring and supervision. A uniform national standardized form is also necessary with findings shared with district health offices and centres. Additionally, staff should be encouraged to own and value local data.

Data verification; Indicators; Health information system; Lao PDR