Haiti - Lives Saved Tool (LiST) Implementation
A consortium of academic and international organizations, led by the Institute of International Programs at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School, and supported by a Gates Foundation grant to the US Fund for UNICEF, has developed a user-friendly tool to estimate the impact of scaling-up maternal, newborn and child health interventions, known as the Lives Saved Tool (LiST). More information about the tool can be found here: http://idfive.jhsph.edu/departments/international-health/centers-and-institutes/institute-for-international-programs/current-projects/lives-saved-tool/
World Vision (WV) seeks to implement LiST in its national offices to: 1) promote evidence-based decision making, by identifying health, nutrition, and WASH interventions with the highest proven and potential for impact in a given setting, and 2) aid in planning the expansion of maternal, neonatal and child health interventions. The purpose of the projects will be to support WV National Office Health Teams (NOs) in setting up operational mechanisms and processes for collecting and reporting on programming implementation monitoring data that will be used to demonstrate the evidence-based contribution of WV in averting under-five (U5) morbidity and stunting, as well as the number of U5 lives saved, at the national-level. The project aims to build WV staff capacity in the use of LiST, to foster future learning and institutionalization of the tool within the origanization.
In 2013, I applied to the MSPH degree program in the Department of International Health at JHSPH because I intend to become an experienced and influential global health researcher and international development professional. I aim to reduce health disparities, inform health policy, increase access to quality healthcare and encourage capacity building in African countries in my career. As such, I wanted to hone my writing, communication, analytical, qualitative and quantitative research skills during the program and particularly during my practicum.
My GHEFP as a World Vision Global Health Fellow in Dodoma, Tanzania was an occasion to do that; it was an opportunity for professional development and personal growth. I lead focus group discussions (FGD), field observations and other qualitative exercises to assess the quality of World Vision Tanzania’s (WVT) implementation of the AIM-Health program. I performed analyses of quantitative data using the Lives Saved Tool (LiST) to estimate the program’s effect on maternal, newborn and child health in the communities where it was implemented. Lastly, I engaged in staff capacity building in the use of LiST for evidence-based design, monitoring and evaluation programming at WVT.
In terms of personal growth, having dealt with long delays and disappointments even before leaving for Tanzania, I understand now that one has to be very patient, flexible and open-minded to be a successful global health/ international development professional. I learned how to interact professionally with people whose background (social, cultural, educational or professional) is different from mine in an environment I was unfamiliar with – something I had not really done before. I faced uncertainty, unknowns, more delays and setbacks in a rather isolated setting where I was not proficient in the primary spoken language at the office where I worked or the hotel where I stayed (I knew about three words in Swahili before taking off for Tanzania!). I assimilated to the best of my ability by befriending colleagues and staff at the hotel. This made all the difference– though I was sometimes anxious and stressed, the Tanzanians I met are very kind and easygoing people. I enjoyed all the moments I spent with them whether they were discussions on politics and governance in African countries during our tea and lunchtime breaks, Swahili lessons in the car on the way to the villages where I did field work, or dinner and drinks at the popular Rainbow Bar on Saturdays. I am grateful for these moments, the financial assistance I received to partake in this experience, the skills I was able to develop, the lessons learned and knowledge gained, the contacts and connections made, and above all the warm welcome I received that contributed to making my time in Tanzania absolutely memorable.
I am convinced that I needed to have this particular experience at that particular time in my life. I notice that I am more patient, humble, understanding, a better listener, and a more effective speaker than I was at this time last year. I am even more passionate about my career goals. I have a renewed focus, drive and dedication to my career and feel prepared to enter the job market. I realize now that the work I do and will do is not just a job so I take ownership and pride in doing it well. It is important to me to help the less fortunate and disadvantaged populations in low- and middle-income countries get healthier and in a better position to reach their full potential. To achieve that, I am prepared to continue taking chances, stepping out of my comfort zone and moving to unfamiliar places as long as I keep doing work that truly makes or will make a difference.