Data accuracy, data quality, and a few weekend trips in Ghana….

Hey! After a few weeks, we’ve finally got strong and relatively consistent internet access – it just took taking a loooong bus ride to Accra for the weekend to make it happen 🙂

So we’ve had a busy past few weeks at work and we’re moving into our house this Wednesday! We’re really excited to get settled in and try out cooking with all of the fun and interesting things that we can find in the Takoradi markets and grocery stores (there are 2 small grocery stores that we know of now)!

So first – our project…. we’ve continued to work on data collection from the STAR CHPS facilities… I think we’ve only got a few left to visit… what we’ve been collecting is a comparison between data that can be verified in source documents and data that has been reported to the district… in addition to this data accuracy collection, we’ve now begun to use a data quality assessment questionnaire that looks at how well the community health facilities actually understand and use the data that they’re reporting… so unfortunately, we’re not their favorite people to see, despite the fact that we tell them that it’s not a test and the purpose is to help everyone improve… because as a part of that questionnaire, we do ask them to calculate rates and coverage and draw and interpret a bar graph… the idea is that this questionnaire will help us to identify any gaps in data quality and use that exist in the STAR CHPS facilities now, in addition to encouraging a continued focus on data accuracy. One thing that we have learned during these visits is that it is very useful to give feedback – particularly on the data accuracy piece – while we are at the facilities.

An example of a data accuracy graph that we are sharing with the facilities to prompt discussions around improving data accuracy… the idea is for the blue line to follow the red line as closely as possible….

So what we’ve been doing is inputing some of the data that we’ve collected that day into excel and creating accuracy graphs while we are still at the facility.We can use these graphs to talk about the data accuracy problems that we’re seeing and make suggestions on how they can improve their accuracy. So as we move from discussing data accuracy to data quality, one area that is catching my attention is effective use of graphics to display our data (yep, I’m still a statistician!)

And then, we’ve also left the data analysis discussions behind to make a few weekend trips to places not too far from Takoradi… our first trip was to Cape Coast,

The courtyard at Cape Coast Castle

where we saw the Cape Coast castle – an old Dutch/British fort that was used heavily during the slave trade… the museum and the tour there are sobering, particularly seeing first-hand the contrast between the bright and spacious areas above ground and the dark and cramped dungeons below ground.

Nzulezo…. the village on stilts


Then the next weekend we went to Nzulezo… a Ghanaian village that is built entirely on stilts over a lake…. you have to canoe in a dugout canoe for about an hour to get to the village, but it’s an absolutely beautiful trip, and an interesting sight to see for sure…

And then we’ve also made it to Busua for a quick one-night trip. Busua is a town on the beach in Western Ghana and is home to the only surf shop in the country – the Black Star Surf Shop… while we were eating breakfast one morning, we were watching a very intense local pick-up soccer game on the beach, a few surf lessons in the water, and fishermen taking their boats and nets out for the day…

The beach at Busua

So then add our 6ish hour bus ride to Accra this past Saturday, and those have been our trips so far (right now, our favorite things about Accra are that the supermarkets have SO many more options than the grocery stores in Takoradi and that there are many more restaurant options, as well!)

Oh and then last weekend, we met up with the GSK PULSE volunteers that are living in Kumasi (about 5 hours away) – Kim and Hye-Sook – so that was really nice to meet them and to share our PULSE experiences so far (I think Kim has the picture of all of us together) and it was fun to have some instant friends and people to visit on a future weekend trip… and then this week, Binita and I are going to stop by the GSK Ghana office while we’re in Accra – so that’s going to be interesting for both of us to see the GSK office here – we’re looking forward to it.

So that’s been life for the past few weeks… there’s still an open invitation to come visit… we’re slowly but surely learning our way around Ghana!