By Laura Costica, Research Associate, ICTPH
These are exciting times as ICTPH and its implementation partner, SughaVazhvu Ltd., are gearing up for the launch of their second Rural Micro Health Centre in Tanjore district. Plans are ambitious: 5 villages and a population of 11,000 are to be served by the two nurses manning the clinic. Touching the lives of each inhabitant of those villages is no easy task, but the nurses have serious help from 13 SughaVazhvu Guides, women residing in the clinic’s catchment area who are the organisation’s reach-out staff and a key component of the ICTPH/SughaVazhvu health system.
Whether you need to monitor your blood pressure or want to know if your child needs spectacles, the SughaVazhvu Guides have been provided appropriate training and will visit you at your doorstep. In line with ICTPH’s aim to provide preventive services, they have also been taught to measure Body Mass Index and screen for alcohol and smoking dependence. All this is part of a massive data collection exercise whereby each of the 11,000 people in the catchment area will be administered a survey form comprising of questions about their health profile, as well as the results of a set of physical tests (blood pressure, BMI, Visual Acuity).
Having intimate knowledge of every individual’s health status will help SughaVazhvu provide better services and is at the heart of its healthcare model. Good quality data is crucial for the success of this endeavour and, to this end, ICTPH and SughaVazhvu staff prepared an intensive training to familiarize the Guides with the data collection tool – the survey form. The training format followed a very hands-on approach. During the first 3 days the nurses were brought on board through an immersion course into “How to be an enumerator”, learning through a mix of classroom and field exercises; smart as they are, they quickly mastered the technique of administering questionnaires and joined the lot of trainers from ICTPH. The SughaVazvhvu Guides were then paired up and assigned mentors who first administered the survey form on them. This introduction was followed by a thorough explanation of each element in the form, accompanied by instructions on how to frame questions in order to encourage respondent cooperation and elicit truthful answers. Finally, the Guides participated in a practice session wherein each member of the pair administered the survey to the other under the watchful eye of a supervisor. The same format was followed for each of the four forms: Adult, Adolescent, Child and Infant (defined as age groups). The office in Tanjore was buzzing as everyone was filling out forms and oodles of enthusiasm filled the atmosphere (see photos here). Feedback forms distributed at the end of the first week highlighted the increased motivation of the Guides, who wrote heart-warming (anonymous) thank you messages to the trainers. This filled us with hope and new energy to coordinate the second part of the training during week 2 – field practice. This is happening now, so stay tuned to hear the rest of the story.