Wednesday, October 13, 2010

So remember that flexibility thing….

Last week we all went to visit our future sites (with the exception of two of our trainees who had their site fall through at the last moment – actually about 12 hours before they were to leave), and here is the updated information about my future site:

  • I will indeed be working at the District Health Office in Mayuge, but I am actually working for an organization called URC  (University Research Company). Here is a brief overview of URC (from their website):

University Research Co., LLC is a professional services firm dedicated to helping clients use scientific methods and research findings to improve program management and outcomes and achieve organizational and behavioral change. For over 40 years, URC has helped government and private sector clients design, operate, and evaluate programs that address health, social, and educational needs.

With its non-profit affiliate, the Center for Human Services, URC works in the United States and abroad on projects that span five core practice areas: Communications & Outreach, Education & Training, Health & Population, Quality Management, and Research & Evaluation. CHS and URC share the same capabilities, staff, and facilities and provide the flexibility to work under for-profit or non-profit contracting arrangements.

  • I will be working specifically on the Health Care Improvement Project. Here is another internet blurb about HCI:

The USAID Health Care Improvement Project builds on URC’s technical leadership of USAID’s global efforts to improve health care quality since 1990 through the Quality Assurance Project (QAP) I, II, and III. The five-year project, which was awarded on September 24, 2007, supports the USAID Global Health Bureau and country missions to address significant challenges in raising the quality of health care in developing and middle income countries. The contract’s task order mechanism allows USAID country missions and other U.S. Government agencies to issue separate task orders within the HCI mandate. The first task order, effective September 28, 2007, covers three years and the transition of field and centrally funded work from QAP.

The goal of the HCI Project is to improve quality and outcomes of health care in developing countries by adapting and applying modern methods of quality improvement (QI). The project is guided by a vision that health care quality can be significantly improved by applying proven QI approaches to curative, preventive, and chronic care.

Priority areas for HCI are scaling up evidence-based interventions and improving outcomes in child health, maternal and newborn care, HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria, and reproductive health. Other significant goals include expanding coverage with essential services; making services better meet the needs of underserved populations, especially women; improving efficiency and reducing the costs of poor quality; and improving health worker capacity, motivation, and retention. 

·      Document interventions implemented to improve the quality of health care, how quality is measured, and the impact of the interventions
·      Institutionalize modern quality improvement approaches as an integral part of health care in USAID-assisted countries
·      Expand the evidence base for the application of QI to human resources (HR) planning and management
·      Expand experience with the improvement collaborative approach in USAID-assisted countries
·      Expand experience with the spread collaborative approach in USAID-assisted countries
·      Expand the experience base for other specific QI approaches
·      Improve the cost-effectiveness of QI in USAID-assisted countries
·      Provide global technical leadership for QI in USAID-assisted countries

  • More specifically, I will be working on a pilot project in my district on palliative care in health facilities, focusing on patients with HIV

  • Lastly, I actually do not have electricity or a water tap; therefore, once I move to site, blog posts are likely to be even fewer and farther between – my apologies! However, I have an adorable blue roof on my house. Pictures (hopefully) to come relatively soon. 

In other news, since I recently celebrated my 23rd birthday, I would like to reflect on the differences between this birthday and my previous one:

The day I turned 22:
  • I was a graduate student in Baltimore
  • I had 7 AMAZING roommates
  • I woke up to find a wall of balloons barricading me into my room, followed by a breakfast of pancakes and cookies, courtesy of the above mentioned amazing roommates
  • The amazing roommates also made me a delicious meal of fajitas followed by chocolate cake and gifts
  • The festivities ended with an evening at the symphony with, you guessed it, the amazing roommates J

The day I turned 23:
  • I was a Peace Corps Trainee in Uganda
  • I was spending my first night alone in my soon-to-be home: Mayuge
  • I attended a Village Health Team (VHT) training in one of the villages outside of town
  • I greeted several groups of Ugandans in Lusoga, and all of them were extremely amused that I could do such a thing
  • I ate lunch huddled in a hut during a monsoon-type rain
  • On my way back to Wakiso, I treated myself to a delicious meal of Indian food followed by a coffee milkshake

In conclusion: my life has changed a bit in the past year J

This week marks our last week in Wakiso, and we’re all surprised that it has come so soon. For the past several weeks we’ve all been eagerly counting down the days until training ends, but as the end approaches, a lot of us are filled with some anxiety about the transition to come as well as sadness at leaving our 44 new muzungu friends. The next two years are finally about to begin: scary/exciting!!!

I’d like to leave you today with an amusing tidbit: one my favorite sites in my village is the ice cream man. Yes indeed, the ice cream man. He rides a boda boda (motorcycle) with a cooler strapped to the back, and he plays music (usually of the Christmas variety) while driving down the street. It makes me smile every time I see it. J

ttfn – ta ta for now!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Oh Happy Day

Today there was a collective rise in the morale of the training class – a general sense of excitement and joy. Today was the day we’ve been waiting for since we arrived in Uganda. Today we got our site announcements.

Now, some of you might be thinking “so what? – you’re already there.” Even though we’ve been in Uganda for about two months now, we’ve had pretty much no idea where we’ll be living or what work we’ll be doing for the next two years. Today we were finally able to start putting together a picture of what our new lives will look like.

Having said that, there’s still a LOT of information that’s unknown, and we’ve all been warned that placements often fall through at the last minute. The main requirement for Peace Corps service = flexibility.

Here’s what I know so far:
-       I’m working for the District Health Office in Mayuge (in the southeast of the country, close to Lake Victoria), whose goal is to improve delivery and access of health services to its population
-       The health office supports 183 facilities and 39 District Health Teams
-       I will live about 2 km from the nearest town and post office
-       I will have electricity and a water tap at my home

This may not seem like a lot of information, but I’m super excited to start getting information on what the next two years will look like, and I’m even more excited about the organization I’ll be working for. Next week we get to visit our future sites where we can meet our colleagues and get to see our new home. Yay J

In other news:
This week we had a talent show, which showcased the fabulous skills of the trainees and trainers. Some of the acts included a skit of a “Ugandan” Hidden Passions (a soap opera that many families here watch on a daily basis), an African fashion show (including my male language trainer modeling a lovely dress), and lots of dancing (both American and Ugandan). I think training should include a talent show at least once a week.

Today after site announcements we went on a field trip to Zika forest and the botanical gardens. We all had a nice relaxing afternoon enjoying the beautiful wildlife. A great ending to a great day.

Hopefully next time I post I’ll have more details about my site.

ttfn – ta ta for now J