School of Public Health
VectorWorks, a USAID-funded project, works with the National Malaria Control Program (NMCP) in Tanzania and other stakeholders to increase access to and availability of LLIN, as well as to increase interest in and use of LLINs. The overall objectives include increasing household ownership of nets, increase use of nets among children under five years and increase use of nets among pregnant women. VectorWorks supports Tanzania's LLIN continuous distribution strategy including distribution of LLINs through ANC services, targeting pregnant women at their first ANC visit, EPI services, targeting children receiving their measles 2 vaccination, and through primary schools, targeting children in primary classes. Along with providing strategic, technical support in distribution and monitoring this project focuses on capacity building for the National Malaria Control Program. The Tanzania program will focus on school based distribution strategies, monitoring and evaluation.
Global Health Mentor/PI: Gabrielle Hunter | Johns Hopkins Center for Communication Programs (JHU CCP)
For my GHEFP, I went to Tanzania to assist in a net distribution program in schools and health facilities as part of VectorWorks, Johns Hopkins Center for Communications Program (CCP). VectorWorks is a five-year USAID-funded, global malaria prevention project aimed at supporting countries to achieve and maintain high levels of coverage and use of insecticide-treated nets (ITNs).
While looking for a practicum, I had wanted one that would give me experience in public health program management, with a focus on monitoring and evaluation (M&E). After looking through the list of practicums available and sitting through several informational interviews, I decided that the VectorWorks project in Tanzania would best suit my learning goals. The VectorWorks team was extremely accommodating to my learning goals. After expressing my interest in M&E, my Scope of Work (SOW) was drafted with a focus on M&E. I spent most of my time with VectorWorks working on the ITN distribution program in schools, locally known as the School Net Program (SNP).
About a month or so before I left for Tanzania, I started working at the CCP office in Inner Harbor to orient myself on the project. I sincerely enjoyed working at the Baltimore office and could see myself in similar positions after I graduate. Before I left Tanzania, I sat in on conference calls with the Tanzania team, helped draft tools for their process evaluation, and provided feedback and assist in the writing of a user guide for their ITN accountability dashboard. My responsibilities were manageable and well defined. My Baltimore mentor had drafted a SOW before I left to Tanzania to make it clearer for both myself and the Tanzania team, which activities I would be assisting in. I left Baltimore excited and prepared.
My time in Tanzania was challenging, but also fruitful. In the local office in Tanzania, I mainly helped develop documents to communicate program implementation guidelines and highlight program achievement for internal and external audiences. These includes case studies, blog posts, lessons learned, briefing notes, technical reports, and program reports to donor. I also attended team meetings as necessary. I was fortunate enough to participate in two field visits to support the validation of school enrollment data, and to supervise the issuing of nets to students. I also sat in on several engagement and training meetings with Tanzania National Malaria Control Program (NMCP). I stayed a total of 3 months for my first trip to Tanzania. After returning home for a month, I was asked to return back to Tanzania to lead training and daily debriefings of data collectors for SNP Procedural audit. My second trip lasted for 3 weeks. I will continue working with the VectorWorks project until I graduate in May.
Tanzania was my first experience living in a developing country aside from my home country, Indonesia. The one thing that struck me the most and caught me off-guard was the amount of attention that I received as a foreigner. I realized that many things could be attributed to the different cultures, but often had difficulty in accepting the situation. Not being able to understand what was going on around me was also challenging at times. Overall, the locals were warm and the country was beautiful. It was a great learning experience living in a low- or middle-income country.
Working with VectorWorks, CCP and living in Tanzania has been a great learning experience both professionally and personally. If I were to rank my placements again, I would still rank this as my first choice. Thank you CGH for funding me!