Peters, Michael

School of Public Health - International Health


Various (Mozambique, Tanzania, or Malawi)

Various (Mozambique, Tanzania, or Malawi) - Real Accountability: Data Analysis for Results (RADAR) - Implementation Strength Assessment

The Institute for International Programs at the Johns Hopkins University (IIP-JHU) has been funded by the Department of Global Affairs, Canada (GAC) to develop and test tools to evaluate the effectiveness of programs to improve women’s and children’s health and nutrition. This project, called Real Accountability: Data and Analysis for Results (RADAR) is supporting the development of tools to evaluate the effectiveness and impact of health and nutrition programs so that they can be used across all GAC-funded MNCH&N projects. The project involves tools to assess coverage, implementation strength, and quality of care and assist implementers with selecting interventions with the most impact and that address the impact pathway. Tools will be implemented in multiple GAC-focus countries and there will be a focus on learning from implementation so that tools can be improved and made flexible enough to be implemented in a variety of settings.

This placement is to work on assessing the implementation strength and/or quality of care of nutrition program and mapping of the various nutrition related programs. (

Global Health PI/Mentor: Melissa Marx

            The first week that I spent in country was supporting a capacity building training session regarding the StatsReport data analysis platform in Blantyre, Malawi’s largest city. I had not spent much time working with StatsReport before coming to Malawi so I was fairly uncomfortable with the tool, but the session ultimately turned out to be a refresher on statistics and regression analysis so I became more comfortable onwards. After the first week, the rest of my placement was spent in Zomba, the former capital of the country doing data management for a national survey evaluating family planning programs in Malawi. This experience gave me a great perspective about the amount of effort and time that goes into collecting high quality data in a survey of such a wide scope. Hopkins partnered with the National Statistics Office for this project, and I developed many beneficial working relationships with people in the office. The most unexpected relationships were with the GIS department, and we were able to collaborate and share information across departments. I was surprised by the fact that the NSO was not working more closely with the Ministry of Health, even though they had similar objectives and learned a lot about the siloes that exist within government operations.

            The biggest lesson that I learned about global health from this experience was regarding the difficulty of obtaining data. Even though we were working with the organization that conducted the DHS survey, we were unable to obtain undisplaced geolocations of the DHS clusters which were necessary for our analyses. We went through all of the necessary channels, and even got the Commissioner of Statistics to request the data, however it was still unavailable due to IRB requirements regarding the sensitivity of HIV data that was collected. This was an extremely valuable lesson about how difficult it is to obtain sensitive data and also about the importance of being flexible when working in this field. My capstone was initially predicated on obtaining this data, and after it became apparent that we would not be able to get it, I had to adjust my plans.

            Although I was in country for data collection, the work was conducted in a central office because the survey was a mobile phone based survey. Despite the lack of a traditional experience in the field, this survey taught me a lot about the practicality of mobile phone based surveys and about working in an office setting in a low-income country. At the beginning of the survey, most of my work was centered around technical support and trying to make the logistics of this ambitious national survey work. Most of my work involved skills in tools that I did not possess before being in country, especially with R programming and ODK survey management tools. Everybody pulled their weight and with our team’s dedication and technical skill, we finished data collection weeks ahead of schedule. This allowed us to focus our efforts on improving the quality of the data, and the end result was a rich, nearly complete dataset, covering family planning NGOs and urban facilities in addition to the rural facilities that were originally planned to be surveyed.

            For future students, I would highly recommend working with the NEP and the partner NSO in Malawi. From my experience and the experience of fellow students, the practicum is most beneficial if you understand your role and what you can contribute to the project before leaving for the practicum and are excited about your part in the project. The Hopkins staff are very interested in the success of the project but also about how the experience contributes to the overall studies and goals of the student worker. Further, the NSO team is capable, enthusiastic and very welcoming, making them great partners.

This is a photo of the Implementation Strength Assessment team including supervisors and interviewers.

This is a photo of the Implementation Strength Assessment team including supervisors and interviewers.

This photo is of me working with a supervisor, Lovemore Manda, to check and upload the surveys from interviewer’s tablets during the mobile phone administered survey.

This photo is of me going through some quality assurance protocols with a supervisor, Grace Mkwhira.

This was the main team that I worked with: Emma Brofsky, also from Hopkins, Sam Chikposo, and Sautso Wachepa in front of our office


Joanne Katz, ScD MS,BSc

Associate Chair, Director of Academic Programs

Stefan Baral, MD MPH,MBA,MSc

Director, Key Populations Program

Yukari C. Manabe, MD

Associate Director of Global Health Research and Innovation

Caitlin Kennedy, PhD MPH,BA

Co-Director, MPH concentration in Social and Behavioral Sciences in Public Health; Associate Director, Center for Qualitative...

Noreen Hynes, MD MPH

Director, Geographic Medicine Center of the Division of Infectious Diseases

Robert Bollinger Jr., MD MPH

Director, Johns Hopkins Center for Clinical Global Health Education (CCGHE); Associate Director, Johns Hopkins Center for Global...

June 2019



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