FP/RH Network Mapping and Needs Assessment in Ethiopia: Final Study Report Now Available
The final report for the Ethiopia FP/RH information needs assessment and Network Mapping (Net-Map) study is now available. A dissemination meeting was also held in May in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, during which nearly 50 decision makers, program managers, and others who work on FP/RH and related health topics in Ethiopia gathered to discuss results of the study.
During the dissemination workshop, Dr. Samson presented the results and we solicited questions and comments from the participants; since the room was full of FP/RH experts working in Ethiopia, we wanted to make sure to capture their thoughts and to address their questions and concerns. I also presented an overview of K4Health’s products and services and discussed some ways that they could help with some of the KM problems mentioned in the results presentation. We also learned by listening to additional recommendations presented by some of Ethiopia’s leading FP/RH experts.
Overall, we had a lively discussion, and the workshop helped us finalize the study report.
About the Net-Map Study
The purpose of the study was to (1) examine the FP/RH knowledge management and exchange system in Ethiopia at the national, regional, and zonal/woreda levels; (2) explain key determinants to accessing and using of the latest FP/RH research and model practices; and (3) identify ways to leverage networks and resources to transfer up-to-date research on FP/RH into practice.
The study used qualitative methods, consisting of: key informant interviews (KIIs), focus group discussions (FGDs), and Net-Map. Researchers collected data at the national level (among organizations based in Addis Ababa), as well as three regions, four zones, and ten woredas (or communities). A total of 42 key informants were identified, and 21 KIIs (17 individual and four group interviews) were conducted. Two FGDs were conducted to clarify conflicting opinions in the interviews, further explore the KM system, and identify in-country needs.
Network Mapping (Net-Map) was done at each level, and involved all 42 participants. Net-Map is an interview-based social mapping technique that helps people visualize and discuss situations in which many actors influence the outcome. Participants identified FP/RH actors, drew links between them (see photo, next page), discussed actors’ roles in facilitating or inhibiting information flow, added “influence towers” to reflect the relative influence of each actor, and discussed health information needs and challenges.
Key results from the study include the following:
- Participants identified over 100 FP/RH actors, including a wide range of governmental and non-governmental organizations.
- Most actors exchange information through the MOH, and information can be slow to diffuse.
- Lack of functional networking and a central repository are among the greatest KM challenges.
- Specific information needs differ by level: Generally, national level professionals need policy and strategy documents, while those at the regional and zonal/woreda levels need more contextualized information.
- Also, technological barriers to accessing health information exist throughout the country, especially at the zonal/woreda level.
Recommendations (fully outlined in the report) for strengthening the KM system in Ethiopia include:
- Establishing a central repository of information at the national level, as well as a way to distribute appropriately-packaged information to the regions and zones/woredas.
- Setting up RH resource centers, and/or strengthening RH information at existing resource centers focusing on HIV/AIDS and other health topics.
- Encouraging RH/FP organizations to take leadership roles in information sharing, and to work with the MOH to lessen the KM burden placed on the government.
- Ensuring that existing technology is being utilized adequately to share information on FP/RH, and to use appropriate ways of communicating when working in more rural settings (when Internet and mobile coverage may be limited).