Beyond Wikipedia: Key data sources for GHD in Africa

by Anjali Sastry on November 3, 2009

To carry out Global Health Delivery work in sub-Saharan Africa, you need to learn about the country, context, and health sector. What are the resources that will take you beyond things like About.com and Lonely Planet guidebooks–where do you find professionally appropriate sources of data?

Your first stop should be our library resource page.  Make sure to set aside time to go there now: check all the tabs, know what’s there, and use what’s most useful.  Definitely consult the incredibly knowledgeable librarians for in-person help or click on the email help on the library web pages to send a request that will be filtered to a specialist. Don’t neglect the items in the navigation bar on the right side of this page: that’s why they’re there.

Our GHD colleagues shared a list of their key sources, too.

As many already know, relevant resources include the WHO (along with the general site, there’s the Regional Office for Africa and WHOSIS for updated health indicator information); USAID; UNDP; and the Global Fund.

Then there’s general country information—there are sources like index mundi. Our Dewey library colleague suggested that you check out the EIU Country Intelligence link on the country page of the library guide. That and other country sources that he lined up tend to subsume data from the CIA World Fact Book, World Bank and International Monetary Fund, but it may be worth looking to the individual agencies too if you’re really hunting down something.

Also, your focal country’s Ministry of Health is clearly a must-see site.

Depending on your project, UNICEF, PEPFAR and UNAIDS are great sources of information.

Finally, we’ve been asked for more about the cultural, social, and political issues: clearly key for understanding the setting of any project! Not only are these things relevant for the tasks and design of your project, but also for your own experience on the ground. For our class, we designed a context briefing assignment precisely to get everyone thinking about and learning about these key aspects of the settings for the on-site work. Our plan is to share resources and ideas you’ve gleaned, so we’ll be looking at our students’ briefings to pull out things to share widely. We also lined up more broad resources that will help round out the understanding that you’re developing of the settings for your work. It’s easy to add more and extend, so please let us know what you’ve found useful, or what you’d most like help with, and we’ll update as we go.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Anonymous November 9, 2009 at 11:31 pm

A post from a student in the GHD class who requested to remain anonymous:

“After missing Monday’s class on ELI and as a way to learned what I missed, I searched through ELI’s blogspot for stories about what happens there and how is the process of “empowering” a community. For me, empowering a community means giving power to the community through tools like training, education, health, etc to give that community the basic backbone skills we all need to have a “good” life (I must say that I am influenced by the western way of life, which may or may not be the same as in Africa).

The stories, although old (the most recent posts are from 2008), reflect what the missionaries are doing and how the community is responding. Some of the stories were about the Kipkaren staff is finding ways to reach out to the orphans of the community via an “adopt-a-kid” program at the orphanage, or how next week they were going to have a soccer tournament and a graduation ceremony. Additionally, Adele Booysen (the writer of the blog) was telling how the community was helping a group of internally-displaced people who settled nearby. This group was from the mountains where tribal clashes left many dead and it was very interesting to read how the community was giving clothes and food to the group of displaced people. I believe this is a perfect example of empowering. How a community that gets by with very basic things feels empowered enough (because they’ve been educated and have the basic skills that allow them to solve their problems) to help another community that is going through a rough time.

The case focuses on the challenges that Tarus faces regarding the financial sustainability of the clinic. My opinion on this matter is that Tarus should focus on activities that empower the community. I believe the community will be willing to pay for them (at affordable prices) if they see the value of the service. Having said that, I would focus on quality improvements, payment options, and new services because I believe these areas have the greatest impact on the “empowering” process. In terms of funding, I believe ELI should try to look for additional sources of revenue (like the milk and grain projects), but more importantly, to use the available capacity they have. They should market themselves in other communities to try to get them to use their facilities and charge for them accordingly. I believe this is critical because they have already invested in capacity that is unused, so using will probably be cheaper than embarking in new projects that require investment.”

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