BACKGROUND: Discussion about coverage has primarily focused on answering the question: what level of coverage is required to reduce the spread of HIV among people who inject drugs? This paper documents the process involved in designing a Monitoring Information System (MIS) that provides a tool to estimate coverage, frequency of contacts as well as provides a mechanism for correlating these data with changes in risk behaviour among the surveyed population.
METHODS: The system uses paper and pencil data collection forms to record information about the type and location of a contact. Information about the content of the contact such as the services, equipment or education that is delivered is also collected. This data is then entered into a computer program that manages the information and allows for simple standardised reports to be generated. The reports provide a simple mechanism for analysing process indicators such as the number and frequency of contacts, where the contact occurred as well as what the contact consisted of (i.e. education content or distribution of equipment). The system also allows correlations to be made between exposure to services and changes in behaviour thus providing a mechanism for assessing impact indicators.
CONCLUSION AND DISCUSSION: We present a brief description of the Monitoring Information System, its structure and functions and encourage practitioners to consider the importance of adopting standardised monitoring systems to measure coverage. We also explore some potential ethical limitations around using the system.