DHIS2 Overview

So what is the general problem DHIS2 is trying to address? To live healthy lives; or rather the difficulty of providing health services that allow citizens to live healthy lives. Good health is a value in itself and is a building block for everything else in life whether that is work, happiness, freedom, development, etc.

But we know that, still in these modern times, poor health services affect millions globally. The problem is not that we don't know how to improve health, because we do, but more that we fail to do it sufficiently.

Many developing countries lack the information that is crucial for making the right decisions. Tracking and keeping tabs on who gets sick, what their illnesses are, where, when or why they got sick is information that we must have in order to efficiently address public health issues.

An illustration showing some of the reason people get sick.

Developing countries

DHIS2 was originally designed for and is still mostly used in health sectors in developing countries. However, as a response to the recent COVID-19 pandemic, DHIS2 has recently been put in place in several municipalities in Norway to support the tracking of positive cases.

While we're at the subject, what exactly is a developing country? That's a hard question to answer, and we leave it to you to reflect over this question, but the reason we find this interesting is because we have to be aware of the differences between developing countries and developed countries:

  • Developing countries often have very large differences within the countries themselves. People living in the cities can have access to good health services while rural areas might have a completely different way of living and have less access to health services.
  • A developing country can have big income gaps in the population which impacts the availability of health services.
  • A developing country could have a poor infrastructure where access to internet or general electricity is not stable.
  • Public institutions could be badly managed and the people responsible for managing these large complex health information systems could be unqualified.

Developing for developing countries

Developing apps for developing countries of course have some implications that we need to be mindful of:

  • Large differences in infrastructure, capacities and needs. An app made for a large urban city could be difficult and inefficient to use for a small rural district.
  • Slow and/or unstable internet should not crash our apps.


The text and images in this lesson has mostly been borrowed from a presentation by Johan Ivar Sæbø about DHIS2 as a platform.