Chapter 3. Setting Up a New Database

Table of Contents

3.1. Strategies for getting started
3.2. Controlled or open process?
3.3. Steps for developing a database
3.3.1. The organisational hierarchy
3.3.2. Data Elements
3.3.3. Data sets and data entry forms
3.3.4. Validation rules
3.3.5. Indicators
3.3.6. Report tables and reports
3.3.7. GIS (Maps)
3.3.8. Charts and dashboard

The DHIS2 application comes with a set of tools for data collection, validation, reporting and analysis, but the contents of the database, e.g. what data to collect, where the data comes from, and on what format will depend on the context of use. These meta data need to be populated into the application before it can be used, and this can be done through the user interface and requires no programming. What is required is in-depth knowledge about the local HIS context as well as an understanding of the DHIS2 design principles (see the chapter “Key conceptual design principles in DHIS2”). We call this initial process database design or customisation. This chapter provides an overview of the customisation process and briefly explains the steps involved, in order to give the implementer a feeling of what this process requires. Other chapters in this manual provide a lot more detail into some of the specific steps.

3.1. Strategies for getting started

The following section describes a list of tips for getting off to a good start when developing a new database.

  1. Quickly populate a demo database, incl. examples of reports, charts, dashboard, GIS, data entry forms. Use real data, ideally nation-wide, but not necessarily facility-level data.

  2. Put the demo database online. Server hosting with an external provider server can be a solution to speed up the process, even if temporary. This makes a great collaborative platform and dissemination tool to get buy-in from stakeholders.

  3. The next phase is a more elaborate database design process. Parts of the demo can be reused if viable.

  4. Make sure to have a local team with different skills and background: public health, data administrator, IT and project management.

  5. Use the customisation and database design phase as a learning and training process to build local capacity through learning-by-doing.

  6. The country national team should drive the database design process but be supported and guided by experienced implementers.