School of Public Health - International Health
PMA-Ethiopia, implemented in collaboration between Addis Ababa University, Ethiopian Public Health Association and Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, is designed to generate both cross-sectional and longitudinal data on a variety of reproductive, maternal, and newborn health indicators that can inform both national and regional governments. It is designed to respond to the need, highlighted in the 2016 Information Revolution Roadmap, to generate timely population-based data for decision making within Ethiopia.
PMA-Ethiopia builds upon the previous success of the Performance Monitoring and Accountability 2020 (PMA2020)/Ethiopia and the PMA Maternal and Newborn Health survey in SNNP region. PMA Ethiopia features an expanded topical scope, moving beyond family planning to also include maternal and newborn health indicators, expanding geographically to provide greater regional representation within the smallest regions, and an expansion of survey methodology to include both cross-sectional and longitudinal data collection.
PI Mentor: Linnea Zimmerman
GHEFP placed me with Performance Monitoring for Accountability (PMA), a survey project that collects reproductive, maternal, and neonatal health information via a mobile phone application. My responsibilities centered around capacity building and staff training, and I was based at PMA’s country headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Prior to my arrival in Ethiopia, an attempted coup led to an interruption of internet and cell services, and for months afterward, internet service was delayed and social media and email often difficult to access. For a project relying heavily on virtual communication and collaboration across multiple digital platforms, navigating this could be a challenge. Throughout my assignment, this required continue management in order to communicate with my team in Baltimore, collaborate on cloud-based databases and spreadsheets, and perform form testing for our smart-phone based survey application, which involved sending data to cloud databases repeatedly throughout each day.
The bulk of my time in Addis Ababa involved assisting with field staff trainings, form testing, and facilitating the capacity building process. Field staff trainings gathered staff from around the country to Addis Ababa to review topics such as staff responsibilities, organizational policies and procedures, the survey manual and questionnaires, and the use of phones and the mobile survey app to name a few. I helped with instructional sessions where possible and joined returning staff in testing the survey app and documenting issues encountered so that the team could finalize the version of questionnaires to be used at the survey launch.
PMA launched an extensive capacity needs assessment project toward the beginning of my assignment, and I partnered with an independent consultant based in Addis and the Baltimore team to help complete staff capacity assessments. After the conclusion of the needs assessment, I worked with core staff to create individual development plans based upon their stated needs and results of the needs assessment. The project was a time-intensive, iterative process requiring strong communication skills along with equal portions of patience and persistence in the midst of regular study activities. Being able to devote a large portion of my time to this work in-country for four months with enthusiastic support and feedback from country partners was key to achieving our project aims.
Much of my time outside of practicum activities was spent with friends from work and the expat community. I was lucky enough to also connect with friends and family of Ethiopian friends back home in the United States. Favorite memories with my Addis and PMA community include listening to live Ethiopian jazz at Fendika cultural center, celebrating the Ethiopian New Year and Meskel holidays, attending an all-night prayer service at the Orthodox church, and witnessing the breathtaking beauty of the Tigrayan countryside on a road trip to visit field staff in Mekele.
Traditional Ethiopian coffee with rue leaves for added flavor
PMA staff at the field staff training, held at the Red Cross Training Center in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
My friend Mieraf and I outside an Orthodox Tewahedo church in Addis Ababa after all-night prayer service
Dr. Shiferaw lectures at field staff training
Me and co-principal investigators at PMA Ethiopia, Drs. Solomon Shiferaw and Assefa Seme