Introduction: Routine Health Information Systems (RHIS) are increasingly transitioning to electronic platforms in several developing countries. Establishment of a Master Facility List (MFL) to standardize the allocation of unique identifiers for health facilities can overcome identification issues and support health facility management. The Nigerian Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH) recently developed a MFL, and we present the process and outcome.
Methods: The MFL was developed from the ground up, and includes a state code, a local government area (LGA) code, health facility ownership (public or private), the level of care, and an exclusive LGA level health facility serial number, as part of the unique identifier system in Nigeria. To develop the MFL,
the LGAs sent the list of all health facilities in their jurisdiction to the state, which in turn collated for all LGAs under them before sending to the FMOH. At the FMOH, a group of RHIS experts verified the list and identifiers for each state.
Results: The national MFL consists of 34,423 health facilities uniquely identified. The list has been published and is available for worldwide access; it is currently used for planning and management of health services in Nigeria.
Discussion: Unique identifiers are a basic component of any information system. However, poor planning and execution of implementing this key standard can diminish the success of the RHIS.
Conclusion: Development and adherence to standards is the hallmark for a national health information infrastructure. Explicit processes and multi-level stakeholder engagement is necessary to ensuring the success of the effort.