Just over a month in and Garret Dunn and I are thrilled that our pillar project is now really taking shape. Time invested in defining and refining the project scope, learning to speak ‘AMREF’ and really understand our stakeholders’ needs has been time well spent.
Whilst it has been a steep learning curve, and not always plain sailing, getting to the bottom of the myriad of factors that impact on healthcare at and above the community level has proved invaluable. This new knowledge and language has helped us to articulate and gain endorsement for a large scale, multi-year project involving GSK PULSE and AMREF that we hope will make a significant contribution to addressing the challenges in expanding the Community Healthcare Worker (CHW) population in Kenya and beyond.
We have a long way to go but this week has seen us achieve a number of small but significant milestones, including allocation of a permanent AMREF team member, the development (via JPS) and endorsement of a work plan, meetings set up with the Ministry for Health, and clear contracting regarding regular review meetings with both our team and our senior manager. Commitment and engagement with the project is high and we are getting good support with removing barriers to action and identifying further individuals and organisations, both within AMREF and externally, who can help us continue to make progress.
The next phase of our project will see us trying to turn our vision and original concept into a reality and most importantly to develop the evidence via Health Management Information Systems (HMIS) to be able to build a compelling business case to support AMREF’s role in CHW expansion and build on their extensive work and strengths in this area.
There are parallels to be drawn here between our PULSE project and our activity of last weekend, climbing Mount Longenot. Like any project an expedition such as this requires planning and preparation (in our case a good night’s sleep and refraining from going to the gym the day before)! Similarly it’s a team exercise; you have to take everyone with you and it’s not a sprint or a race. We all have different skills, strengths and abilities, so recognising this is crucial to success. As you’ll see from the photo, Garret Dunn and I were indeed successful in this expedition (as were several other GSK Pulse volunteers – Dorothy Aikin, Helen McIlhargey and Sibel Ulusoy) – it was hard work, but the view from the top was magnificent and tremendously rewarding. We’re hoping it bodes well for our teamworking and pillar project back at AMREF!
There is much more to do, but after a week of good progress we believe we have cause to celebrate more than the start of the Olympics this weekend!