STAR-CHPS (Supportive Technical Assistance to Revitalize Community Based Health Planning & Services)
Jhpiego received a five-year grant (2011-2016) from the Jubilee Partners (Tullow Oil, Kosmos Energy, Anadarko Petroleum, Ghana National Petroleum Corporation and Petro SA) with the goal to increase access to quality basic primary health care in 6 coastal districts in the Western Region.
Jhpiego is accomplishing this through an integrated holistic approach to improve the quality of healthcare services including malaria control, antenatal care (ANC), family planning (FP), immunization, growth monitoring, and basic outpatient care available via Ghana Health Services’ (GHS) innovative primary health care service delivery system known as “Community-Based Health Planning and Services” (CHPS) which includes the health facilities and surrounding communities. To achieve the goal, Jhpiego is implementing its quality improvement approach known as Standards Based Management and Recognition (SBM-R) at a total of 61 new CHPS zones, which includes Community Health Officer (CHO), Community Health Management Committee (CHMC), Community Health Volunteer (CHV) and District Health Management Team (DHMT) in four Phases. The project is currenly in its 4th year and is planning an external evaluation.
Global Health Mentor: Heather Harrison, Senior Program Officer at JHPIEGO
Weighed down by suitcases and emotional goodbyes to family, I felt overwhelmed by sea of unknown faces gazing back at me as I walked out of the airport. I breathed a huge sigh of a relief when I saw my name on a placard and two smiling faces beckoning me to follow. After navigating through the heavy Accra rush-hour traffic, my supervisor brought me to an inviting apartment on a quiet street. I was pleasantly surprised with my accommodations (especially the juicy pineapple sitting on the counter). Since my confidence was rising by the minute, I decided to join my supervisor at a yoga class that evening. Not only was yoga the perfect way to stretch cramped muscles after a long plane ride, but I also met other working professionals living in Accra. I eagerly listened to stories of what brought a person to Ghana and tips for living in Accra. I returned home feeling inspired by the assortment of personal and professional experiences. Despite a tinge of homesickness, I was eager to embark on my first journey working and living in a developing country.
I accepted the GHEFP with Jhpiego in Ghana was to gain experience supporting an evaluation of a health project in a developing country. In collaboration with Ghana Health Services, Ghana Jhpiego implemented a five-year project to improve access to quality primary healthcare in six coastal districts in the Western Region. Jhpiego Ghana hoped to complete an end-of-project evaluation to assess whether the project met its intended goal in intervention areas compared to control. While other team members were spread among multiple projects, I was one hundred percent devoted to supporting the evaluation. My role was to assist the project team in taking the evaluation from draft concept to reality.
While my coursework in monitoring and evaluation provided me theory for why and how health evaluations are carried out, this placement gave me hands-on experience with supporting an evaluation in a developing country context. Along with my project team, I wrote sections of the research protocol and the survey questionnaire that would be administered to households. I wrestled with questions of how to randomize households in scattered, rural villages and how to communicate with teams given limited internet connectivity. This placement afforded me a unique opportunity to fully engage in all aspects of the evaluation, from design to implementation to analysis.
One experience that stands out in my memory occurred during the data collector training. On the last day of training, I facilitated a session where the team led the data collectors through what a typical day would look like in the field. For example, I began by having the data collectors go through a checklist of items to pack in bag before setting from the hotel. At another point, I asked a pair of data collectors to demonstrate entering a new community and meeting a community leader. After finishing the session, I was in awe of how tangible the evaluation felt. What had begun as notes on design had turned into survey questionnaires, tracking sheets, and now real-life data collectors listening t my instructions! I was familiar to some degree with every piece of paper and process we had covered. In a few short months, I had a unique opportunity to fully participate in a real-world evaluation from design to analysis. I am very appreciative to the Center of Global Health and Jhpiego for giving me this opportunity.
This is a picture of a CHPS facility in a typical fishing village in the project area:
This is a picture of me with one of our data collectors:
This is picture of me at a street art festival in Jamestown, Accra:
This is a picture I took on a hike from a fishing village in the project area:
This is a picture of a rural village in one of our project areas: