GENEVA, 2 August 2019 (The Geneva Learning Foundation) – Obed Nuobe has been a Health Information Officer in the Suaman District, Ghana, since 2015. In July 2019, he completed the “Reducing Inequities and Improving Coverage” Scholar course.
He is one of more than 600 Alumni of the WHO Scholar programme from 53 countries who joined the Impact Accelerator last month, signing a Pledge to “work with others to transform projects led by Scholars into action and results that will improve immunization outcomes.”
“When I analysed the data in our District, I saw that only 51.7% of pregnant women received the Td2 + vaccines in 2018. Our target was 80% – and we were a long way from meeting it.”
“Our expected pregnancy rate shows that we should be vaccinating about 93 women per month to meet the annual target. We averaged 47. Yet 95% of pregnant women who visit our health facilities are checked for HB and tested for HIV. So there was a gap in the system somewhere.”
“The District Health Director and Management team were enthusiastic to change this. We met with midwives and community health nurses in April 2019.”
“The new maternal health booklet includes space for Td 1-Td 5 , so it is easy to see whether someone has been vaccinated when they go for an ante-natal check-up (ANC)”
“But the midwives thought that they were not allowed to give vaccinations. We also found out that ANC days were conducted without Td vaccines and most women went away without seeing Community Health Nurses due to long waiting times, or the Nurse not vaccinating that day.”
“We confirmed that midwives can give the Td vaccines. We supported the facilities to make a list of defaulters, and made it available so that when women go for ANC or check-up, midwives could easily see who was missing the vaccination, and get them vaccinated.”
“I also had to visit two facilities whose midwives had not been at our meeting in April to share this information with them.”
“In May 2019 we vaccinated 104 pregnant women, and in June 82: a lot better than the 47 we were achieving before. I have developed a weekly reporting form, so that we can track data as we go, rather than waiting for the end of the month.”
“Very few districts in Ghana meet the target of 80% of pregnant women reached with the Td2 + vaccines. If we can show the impact of what we have done, we hope our approach will be adopted by other Regions, and then nationally.”
“For me, it was important to engage with the District health management team for them to give remedial input into my plans. We do not have resources for now, but we can go around the system to continue to improve it!”
What difference did the Impact Accelerator make?
“I had started implementing my project before the Accelerator [launch pad, a four-week exercise] began,” explains Obed. So what difference did it make to work with Scholars from Ghana and other countries, all of them working to implement projects that began as course work? “It was very positive that the Accelerator kept tracking progress of my project and asking for the next steps.”
“The Ghana Scholars country group [formed by the country’s Alumni during the Impact Accelerator] meets every Sunday evening. We are expected to tell other group members what we have done in the previous week. We also give input to other Scholars facing challenges in implementing their projects.”
“The best thing about the Accelerator exercise was the focus on action on the ground, rather than theory and planning.”
About the WHO Scholar programme
The Geneva Learning Foundation’s Scholar Approach is a state-of-the-art evidence-based package for capability development required to lead complex change. This unique Approach has already been shown to not only enhance competencies but also to foster collaborative implementation of transformative projects that begin as course work and end with impact.
- WHO has used the Scholar Approach since 2016 to support country-level action planning and capability development to improve immunization outcomes:
- The WHO Scholar programme’s network is growing rapidly, with 4,467 English speakers and 2,968 Francophones from 90 countries having participated in the programme’s activities.
- Working together, Scholars have used WHO guidelines to develop more than 2,000 peer-reviewed, context-specific projects, with over 90% reporting that they routinely use what they learned from the programme.
- Over 400 programme participants have served as Accompanists, supporting their peers and exercising leadership in new ways that challenge failed, conventional training-of-trainer and cascade models.
- In some countries, Scholars have spontaneously initiated informal, self-led and motivated groupings of professionals operating across agencies that may provide a different kind of lever for systemic change than traditional top-down approaches to addressing immunization challenges.
- Building on these emergent dynamics, Scholars are now being invited to join the first Impact Accelerator, working with colleagues from their country toward collaborative project implementation.
- The programme is fully digital, with no upper limit to the number of participants, and has mobilized participants without having to offer per diem, travel, or hotel accommodation.
The WHO Scholar programme is being developed by the Geneva Learning Foundation and its partners for the World Health organization, with support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF).