|Créer, trouver, échanger l'information - Creating, finding and exchanging information - Creación, búsqueda e intercambio de información - 80/81 - 1994/3-4. (FAO, 1994, 32 p.)|
|Specific issues concerning the application of information systems in developing countries|
The author's address is: Department of Health Management, University of Prince Edward Island, Charlottetown CIA 4P3, Canada.
This article is adapted from a paper presented at an Expert Consultation on the need for information systems to strengthen veterinary services in developing countries held at FAO Headquarters Rome, Italy, in November 1993.
Information system projects frequently run into difficulties and fail to meet their full objectives. Some possible reasons for this are unrealistic objectives and goals, inadequate human resources to support the effort and inappropriate development methodologies used to build the system.
This article looks at the commonly used and recommended methodologies to determine if they fit with the objectives set for information systems and if they are appropriate for the human resources available. In the first instance, it will deal with the development of computer-based information systems, looking at these systems for monitoring and/or surveillance purposes. While the principles outlined below may apply to systems designed for emergency response to exotic disease outbreaks, the requirements of such systems (primarily speed) are somewhat unique The focus will be on systems designed to support the making of animal health decisions as opposed to operational programmes that merely assist with day-today operations. For example, a system designed to support decision-making in a foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) control programme would be considered, but one that merely expedites the shipment of batches of vaccine from a manufacturing plant would not.
The article also covers systems of development strategies, the modular structure of such information systems and the problem of resource limitations in developing countries. Finally, a few specific examples of successes failures will be discussed. While the issues covered apply to information systems in developed countries as well, they become crucial in developing countries given the limited resources to correct mistakes and deal with problems along the way.