Chapter 1. What is DHIS 2?

Table of Contents

1.1. DHIS 2 Background
1.2. Key features and purpose of DHIS 2
1.3. Use of DHIS 2 in HIS: data collection, processing, interpretation, and analysis.
1.4. Technical background
1.4.1. DHIS as a platform
1.4.2. Understanding platform independence
1.4.3. Deployment strategies - online vs offline
1.5. Difference between Aggregated and Patient data in a HIS
1.6. Free and Open Source Software (FOSS): benefits and challenges

After reading this chapter you will be able to understand:

  • What is DHIS 2 and what purpose it serves with respect to health information systems (HIS)?

  • What are the major technological considerations when it comes to deploying DHIS 2, and what are the options are for extending DHIS 2 with new modules?

  • What is the difference between patient based and aggregate data?

  • What are some of the benefits and challenges with using Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) for HIS?

1.1. DHIS 2 Background

DHIS 2 is a tool for collection, validation, analysis, and presentation of aggregate statistical data, tailored (but not limited) to integrated health information management activities. It is a generic tool rather than a pre-configured database application, with an open meta-data model and a flexible user interface that allows the user to design the contents of a specific information system without the need for programming. DHIS2 and upwards is a modular web-based software package built with free and open source Java frameworks.

DHIS2 is open source software released under the BSD license and can be used at no cost. It runs on any platform with a Java Runtime Environment (JRE 6 or higher) installed.

DHIS 2 is developed by the Health Information Systems Programme (HISP) as an open and globally distributed process with developers currently in India, Vietnam, Tanzania, Ireland, and Norway. The development is coordinated by the University of Oslo with core support from NORAD.

As of October 2012, the DHIS 2 software is used in more than 30 countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America, and countries that have adopted DHIS 2 as their nation-wide HIS software include Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Ghana, Liberia, and Bangladesh. A rapidly increasing number of countries and organisations are starting up new deployments.

The documentation provided herewith, will attempt to provide a comprehensive overview of the application. Given the abstract nature of the application, this manual will not serve as a complete step-by-step guide of how to use the application in each and every circumstance, but rather will seek to provide illustrations and examples of how DHIS2 can be implemented in a variety of situations through generalized examples.

Before implementing DHIS 2 in a new setting, we highly recommend reading the DHIS 2 Implementation Guide (a separate manual from this one), also available at the main DHIS2 website.