Kristin Braa and Jørn Braa have been awarded the 2020 Roux Prize, an international award for turning evidence into health impact. The two siblings are both professors at the University of Oslo (UiO), where they have been involved in the DHIS2 project for decades.
The Roux Prize is administered by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington and is funded by founding board member David Roux and his wife, Barbara. Launched in 2013, it is the world’s largest award for evidence-based public health achievement and has drawn nominations from across the globe.
The DHIS project began in post-apartheid South Africa, where equity in health care was a primary goal for President Nelson Mandela’s government. But in order to measure success, the health ministry needed data. Working with Arthur Heywood, Calle Hedberg and other collaborators in South Africa, Jørn initiated the creation of a software platform--District Health Information Software--to track health data across the country, giving government officials a picture of health at the district level and allowing them to make crucial decisions about where to target resources. Noticing the benefits of using the DHIS platform in South Africa, other nations adopted it as well. In 2009, Kristin joined the team, running the Health Information Systems Program (HISP) at UiO Department of Informatics that manages DHIS2.
HISP is a global action research network that provides year-round direct support to institutions and organizations implementing the platform, and UiO serves as the community hub for developers and implementers of DHIS2. The DHIS2 platform prioritizes accessibility, especially for those in low-resource settings. The software enables users to create data visualizations, analyze the data, and share information, and the DHIS2 Android application allows use of the platform in remote areas, even without access to the internet.
“We cannot overstate the importance of good heath data,” said Dr. Christopher Murray, director of IHME. “The work that Kristin and Jørn have done is a vital contribution to the work of improving health worldwide.”
In the past decade, global adoption of DHIS2 has grown rapidly, with more than 70 countries using DHIS2 to manage health data as of 2020. This worldwide community proved invaluable during the COVID-19 pandemic, when experienced DHIS2 implementers and developers--including both local groups and the larger international network led by HISP-UiO--helped 36 countries to rapidly deploy disease surveillance systems using DHIS2, an achiement that testified to both the stability of the the DHIS2 platform, and the success of HISP capacity building efforts.
“It is important to recognize the people who are delivering core technology infrastructure and making frontline contributions to improving health,” said David Roux. “The Braas’ achievements are truly extraordinary, and their work epitomizes the values of the prize – using data in visionary ways to improve health for millions of people around the world.”
The Roux Prize is intended for anyone who has applied health data and evidence in innovative ways to improve population health. Nominees may come from anywhere in the world and could include, but are not limited to, staff in government agencies, researchers at academic institutions, volunteers in charitable organizations, or health providers working in the community. Read more about the Roux Prize on the IHME website.