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Data use champions help unlock success

By Fred Njobvu, Provincial Coordinator, BID Initiative Zambia and Masaina Bwakya, Change Management Officer, BID Initiative Zambia

May 11, 2017

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Dr. Cliff Hara has championed the BID Initiative in Zambia and embraces its user-centered design approach to testing and implementing interventions.

One of the BID Initiative’s core values is to “learn fast, fail fast, share fast” and since BID partnered with the Zambia Ministry of Health in 2014, there have been many learnings along the way. We’ve learned, for instance, the importance of identifying and working with data-use champions. In the BID context, a champion refers to anyone in the health sector who works with the child health unit to promote good health practices and better service delivery. Health professionals use their many skills to positively impact health outcomes.

In Livingstone District, BID implemented data-use interventions in eight pilot facilities. Livingstone also has one of BID’s strongest champions – Dr. Cliff Hara, District Director of Health. Dr. Hara serves as chairperson of BID’s User Advisory Group (UAG) and supported strategies to help design sustainable solutions to the challenges faced in immunization. Dr. Hara’s enthusiasm for data use inspires other staff in his health facilities, and has gained recognition at higher levels in the Ministry of Health. He is an invaluable resource as we expand to other districts in Southern Province.

BID takes a user-centered design approach to involve health workers at various levels of Zambia’s health system to define and implement interventions such as a data use guide, WhatsApp groups for peer networking, data use campaign posters, peer-learning exchange visits, and Zambia’s electronic immunization registry (EIR).

“It was important for all these new interventions to be tested,” says Dr. Hara. “After testing, we had a better understanding of which interventions would be helpful and would provide solutions to our immunization challenges.”

This collaborative strategy works well with Dr. Hara’s style.  The doctor, who has over 15 years of experience, encourages the participation of health staff at all levels, and has gained recognition even beyond Zambia for his participatory approach.

Last December, Dr. Hara was invited to represent Zambia at the Global Digital Health Forum in Washington D.C. He used the platform to share lessons from the BID Initiative in Zambia and his experiences with the UAG. UAGs provided valuable input on the initial set of proposed interventions with a subset now being implemented in Livingstone District.

Without his keen interest and passion for the approaches we collaborate on, the BID Initiative and MOH might not have achieved such a successful rollout in Livingstone and Kazungula Districts. Dr. Hara’s support helped us foster relationships with local health facilities and provided critical insight into the daily challenges and realities of health workers. Having a champion allowed us to establish ourselves quickly and to produce a solution that will have a positive impact on health outcomes in Livingstone District and beyond.

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