Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Team Uganda: Out in the field

The Uganda team had a very busy and successful week last week. On Tuesday, seven members of the Volunteer Health Team joined us at the Volset White House for a training on conducting the data collection survey. The day began with breakfast, followed by a review of TAMTAM’s goals, this specific study and the importance of malaria research. After Hummy led everyone through the survey and data entry methodology, the VHTs role-played to practice conducting the survey. We were particularly excited about one VHT who enthusiastically and humorously acted out challenging situations the VHTs might run into, including getting romantic advances during the interview and interviewees using the bed nets for alternate purposes. After 8 hours of training the VHTs stayed late to review with each other and practice additional scenarios.

The TAMTAM team and VHT's during training outside of the White House

Sheryl reviewing training materials with VHTs

With training done, we could now get out in the field to see the impact of the TAMTAM nets first hand. We spent the rest of the week shadowing VHTs on home visits which were very insightful. We observed that most people are correctly using their TAMTAM nets but that some individuals struggled to hang theirs or repair them after tearing. While it is very early in the data collection, it may indicate that education or VHT assistance in installing and maintaining the net can have a significant impact on utilization.

Hummy checking up on a TAMTAM net in a local household

We were also excited to learn that, thanks to the efforts of the VHTs and government educational programs, the majority of net recipients correctly identify how an individual contracts malaria. Understanding how malaria is contracted, and therefore why bed nets are important, should also help increase correct utilization of the nets.

We are now back in Ntenjeru where we will spend the week continuing to shadow the VHTs on home visits as well as working with the health clinic’s records to get a better understanding of how the number of diagnosed malaria cases have changed over the course of the year. We are hoping that with additional layers of data we will be able to look at the impact of net distributions on diagnosed malaria cases.
The team on our walk to the office in the morning. Great views!

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