The concept of monitoring and evaluation is as old as time and is an essential component of health interventions. M&E states how a programme measures its achievements and provides accountability [1,2,3]. It can also help ensure that healthcare programs and services are responsive to the needs of communities and respect and promote human rights and dignity. By involving stakeholders in the design and implementation of M&E systems, including patients, healthcare providers, and community members, M&E can help ensure that healthcare programs and services are designed with the needs and preferences of the community. M&E also makes it possible to identify issues before they become serious so that fixes can be suggested. It is regarded as an essential component of effective management.
It aids proper documentation of quality data and provides transparency. Other reasons for M&E in the public health field include:
Programme Effectiveness: Monitoring and evaluation help determine whether public health programs are achieving their intended goals and objectives. By collecting and analyzing data on program activities and outcomes, decision-makers can assess the effectiveness of interventions and make informed adjustments to improve program delivery and outcomes.
Evidence-Based Decision-Making: Monitoring and evaluation provide essential data for evidence-based decision-making in public health. By systematically collecting and analyzing data, decision-makers can identify trends, patterns, and gaps in health services and make informed decisions about resource allocation, policy development, and program planning, which leads to more effective and targeted interventions.
Learning and Continuous Improvement: Monitoring and evaluation foster a culture of learning and continuous improvement in public health. By regularly assessing program performance and outcomes, practitioners can identify best practices, lessons learned, and areas for improvement. This knowledge can be shared across programs to enhance future interventions and policies.
Policy Development: Monitoring and evaluation provide critical data for policy development in public health. The evidence generated through monitoring and evaluation activities can inform the formulation of health policies, regulations, and guidelines. This helps ensure that policies are grounded in evidence and aligned with the population’s health needs.
Health Equity: On-going debates about health equity in the context of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have re-emphasized the need to invest in comprehensive health information systems (HIS) to enable countries to study the social determinants of health (SDH) and act on health inequalities, to ‘Leave No One Behind’ . The minimum requirements for a comprehensive HIS that can report on the SDH and health equity have already been identified, as well as a list of essential sources of health-related information. These include social stratifiers such as gender, social class, race, ethnicity, and place of residence, as well as a diversity of mortality, morbidity, and disability outcomes, which include self-assessed physical and mental health [5,6]. By analyzing these data, decision-makers can identify and address health disparities. This promotes the equitable distribution of health resources and services.
In summary, monitoring and evaluation are essential components of public health practice. They provide evidence for decision-making, ensure accountability, facilitate learning and improvement, optimize resource allocation, inform policy development, and promote health equity. By investing in robust monitoring and evaluation systems, public health programs can enhance their effectiveness and maximize their impact on population health.
- Frankel N & Gage A (2007). M&E Fundamentals: A Self-Guided Minicourse. U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)
- Family Health International (FHI) (2011). Core Module 1: Monitoring HIV/AIDS Programme: A Facilitator’s Training Guide. USAID Resource for Prevention, Care, and Treatment.
- International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (2002). Handbook for Monitoring and Evaluation. 1st edition. Switzerland
- United Nations. Transforming our world: the 2030 agenda for sustainable development. New York: United Nations; 2015.
- AbouZahr C, Boerma T. Health information systems: the foundations of public health. Bull World Health Organ. 2005;83(8):578–83.
- CSDH. Closing the gap in a generation: health equity through action on the social determinants of health. Final Report of the Commission on Social Determinants of Health. Geneva: WHO; 2008.