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  • Blog post
    © 2014 Haydee Lemus/PASMO PSI Guatemala, Courtesy of Photoshare

    In Cobán, Alta Verapaz, Guatemala, trainers show health providers from the Ministry of Health how to use different tools and exchange experiences on engaging men in gender and reproductive health. © 2014 Haydee Lemus/PASMO PSI Guatemala, Courtesy of Photoshare

    Men’s engagement has been part of the family planning agenda for over a decade, at least since the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development, yet the field is still learning what truly constructive engagement of men in family planning looks like and how health programs can foster that engagement.

    We do know that the “add men and stir” approach is not the way to improve reproductive health and increase women’s agency over their bodies. In fact, involving men without confronting gender inequality runs the risk of giving men even more power and control over their partners. That risk should not scare program designers away from working with men, however.

    We have an expanding body of literature showing that engaging men can lead to significant changes in harmful gender attitudes and behaviors: better relationships between women and men; improved communication and shared decision making about sexuality, family size, and contraceptive methods; and higher uptake of family planning. We know that these results come from an investment in challenging men (and sometimes women) to think critically about gender inequality and health.   

  • Blog post
    EAC’s Open Health Initiative RMNCH indicator scorecard, signed by Conference delegates.

    EAC’s Open Health Initiative RMNCH indicator scorecard, signed by Conference delegates.

    I recently traveled from Arusha, Tanzania, home of the East Africa Community (EAC) Secretariat, to Uganda, the site of the EAC’s 5th Annual Health and Scientific Conference. On the way, I heard a couple delegates discuss which African countries were leading the way in health. “Who is #1?” they asked each other. Was it Botswana? Who could be last? Maybe Guinea?

    The conversation reflected the friendly competition that helps to motivate EAC’s five member states: Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, and Burundi. During the Conference’s opening plenary, Professor Gerald Yonga from the Aga Khan University of East Africa compared regional statistics relating to non-communicable diseases, including alcohol and tobacco use as well as poor diet. Similarly, during the Symposium on Reproductive Maternal Newborn and Child Health (RMNCH), EAC Deputy Secretary General Hon. Jesca Eriyo and Hon. Dr. Chris Maryomunsi launched a scorecard that tracks key indicators and highlights trends among member states. 

  • Blog post
    Global Health: Science and Practice Vol. 3 No. 1

    A provider inserts a Jadelle contraceptive implant into a client's arm at Ilha de Mozambique Health Center in Mozambique. Increasing availability of long-acting reversible contraceptives is important to improving method mix and meeting people’s family planning needs. 2012 Arturo Sanabria, Courtesy of Photoshare.

    Long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs) can be delivered successfully in crisis settings even though they require more training and infrastructure support than short-acting methods, shows a new article by Dora Ward Curry and colleagues in the latest issue of Global Health: Science and Practice (GHSP). The program led by CARE reached more than 52,000 new modern method users in just 2.5 years. Of these new users, a remarkably high 61% chose LARCs—either implants or IUDs.

    On a global level, however, short-acting methods predominate. Using national survey data from 123 countries around the world, John Ross and colleagues show that 61% of married/in-union women using contraception rely on oral contraceptive pills, traditional methods, or injectable contraceptives. About 13% of users rely on IUDs and only 1% globally rely on implants.

    In a related editorial, GHSP highlights this difference, explaining that while it may be easier for programs to provide short-acting methods, programs shouldn’t discount the importance of improving access to LARCs, which have much lower failure rates and far better continuation rates than short-acting methods, and thus prevent unintended pregnancy better and increase the health benefits of healthy timing and spacing of pregnancy.

  • Blog post
    Credit: Abraham Cresques, 1374. Public domain

    Credit: Abraham Cresques, 1374. Public domain

    Have you watched the new Netflix show, Marco Polo? Although based on one of the world’s most popular travelogues, critics argue that its representation of Asian people is imperfect and that the plot is historically inaccurate. Despite its failings, the East-meets-West plot captured my imagination. The first episode shows Kublai Khan, grandson of Genghis, being charmed by Polo’s description of the trip to Beijing from Italy. We soon learn that the Mongol leader is frustrated in his quest to expand his empire and welcomes Polo’s new perspective to his already diverse council.

    Marco Polo’s 700-year old story is legend because he returns to the West, completing the cross-cultural cycle. As I watched the show, I thought of the work I do in knowledge management (KM) for global health. Though imperfect, the story is an analogy for the relationship between the new discipline of KM and the older discipline of social and behavior change communication (SBCC) in global health.

  • Blog post

    Drawing upon our experiences in using knowledge management techniques for family planning, we realized that knowledge management could lead to a stronger response in the Ebola outbreak, specifically the role of the Ebola Czar. While a connection between family planning, knowledge management, and Ebola might seem like a stretch, we noticed that every article about Ebola articulated issues relating to gaps in coordinating the response – between donors, local organizations, media, and the health system. Wanting to share lessons learned from our family planning experience to a broader audience, we presented at the 2015 Global Health Mini-University, an annual conference for public health professionals and students. Our session, “Coordination, Learning, and Adaptation: Advice for the Ebola Czar,” taught participants about the foundational components of coordination through knowledge management techniques, including Net-Mapping, peer assists, and after-action reviews. We then asked participants to apply these strategies to coordination, learning, and adaptation issues related to the Ebola response.

  • Blog post
    © 1996 Center for Communication Programs, Courtesy of Photoshare

    © 1996 Center for Communication Programs, Courtesy of Photoshare.

    Research to practice. Evidence to action. Research uptake. Evidence-informed policy. Is your head spinning as much as mine? Those of us working in international public health have probably noticed an increasingly common mandate from donors and others to ensure that our programs are evidence-based and that our research produces usable (“actionable”) results. But this is easier said than done — especially when it’s not that easily said! 

    I have personally spent many frustrating hours sifting through Google searches and scanning websites in search of tips and tools to help accelerate the use of evidence in programs and policies. But with no agreed-upon term to represent this idea, (one study found 29 different terms to refer to it!), it can be difficult to find helpful resources. 

    So, although I agree with those who warn that online repositories are not always a saving grace, I think one was actually needed in our case. That is why I worked with my colleagues to develop, and recently update, the K4Health Research Utilization Toolkit. My vision was to create a space where international public health researchers, program implementers, and decision makers could find evidence-based information and tools to address their research utilization interests and needs — no matter what term they may use for it!

  • Blog post
    © 2008 Lisa Basalla, Courtesy of Photoshare

    Lisa Basalla, a staff member with Johns Hopkins Center for Communication Programs (CCP), works with J&F Consultant on pretesting the sampling strategy for the end of project evaluation of the Malawi BRIDGE Project in Balaka District. © 2008 Lisa Basalla, Courtesy of Photoshare

    What is knowledge management?

    Knowledge management (KM) is the systematic process of collecting and curating knowledge and connecting people to it so they can act effectively. Knowledge management work occurs around the elements KM cycle (assessment, generation, capture, synthesis, and sharing) with the ultimate goal of getting the latest knowledge into practice across all levels of the health system.

    Knowledge management has always been a part of global health and development programs, yet for some, it is considered a new area. Global public health programs have been using KM in a variety of forms for decades! Think of all the publications, guidelines, job aides, and websites that have been produced to get the latest evidence into use! Over time, KM approaches have evolved to take advantage of digital technologies and to address the need to connect health professionals to tacit knowledge—which is best observed or communicated through face to face interaction that allows deeper probing and an iterative back and forth exchange. Today’s KM practitioners value the social aspect of knowledge management, which takes place through human interaction. We call this “Social KM.”  

  • Blog post
    © 2011 A.M. Ahad, Courtesy of Photoshare.

    © 2011 A.M. Ahad, Courtesy of Photoshare.

    At the Knowledge for Health (K4Health) project, we believe that knowledge saves lives. Organizations that apply proven knowledge management techniques can improve the quality, effectiveness, and efficiency of health workers and programs. This in turn improves health outcomes.

    Knowledge management can be a dry and technical topic that’s tough to get excited about. It can be difficult to understand, and its value can be hard to see. For those who are new to the topic, knowledge management is the process of collecting and curating knowledge, then connecting people to it so they can act effectively.

    Sounds easy enough, right? Think of it as a process that helps your team get better organized at work so that everyone knows exactly what they are responsible for and feels confident in their ability to do their job.

  • Blog post

    A surgical checklist. An international family planning conference. An eLearning course. A photo-sharing website. What do these things have in common? They are all examples of essential knowledge management tools that advocates, donors, decision makers, program managers, service providers, and others can use to share the latest know-how in order to improve public health.

  • Blog post

     

    Amanda Puckett gets her temperature taken while working in Guinea as a precaution to screen for Ebola.

    Amanda Puckett gets her temperature taken while working in Guinea as a precaution to screen for Ebola, 2015. 

    This blog post originally appeared February 16, 2015 on Vital, IntraHealth International's Blog. 

    The culture in Guinea is vibrant and thrives on close-knit communities and personal relationships. When the largest-ever outbreak of Ebola started here in March 2014, it threatened not only the health of Guinea’s population but also the ties that bind its people together.

    Since then, there have been over 3,000 confirmed cases and over 2,000 deaths.

    At the turn of the year, the number of new cases started to drastically decrease, but since I arrived in Conakry in early February, the pendulum has swung and cases are sharply on the rise again.