Online Course: Meeting the Demand for Local Partner Strategic Information Skills

April 15th, 2021 | News

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For many local organizations, direct PEPFAR funding is a fantastic opportunity to increase qualified staff, expand much-needed services, and strengthen organizational systems. This funding, however, comes with extensive requirements, not only in terms of financial management and contractual compliance, but also for strategic information and results reporting. Particularly for newly established prime recipient partners, these requirements can present a steep learning curve, adding to the challenges of strengthening systems while implementing complex programs to improve HIV clinical outcomes.

To help grantees manage these new responsibilities, the Data.FI project, led by Palladium with funding from USAID, developed an online training on PEPFAR strategic information and data quality assessments. Led by JSI’s Kola Oyediran, Jessica Posner, and Caitlin Madevu-Matson, and Palladium’s Lindsay Scott, this blended digital course offers 22 asynchronous lessons that allow participants to learn at their own pace, along with two live synchronous sessions aimed at reinforcing key concepts and skills from the lessons. Virtual office hours are also available to allow trainees to connect with subject matter experts and contextualize their learning with one-on-one technical assistance.

Launched in November 2020 for staff of organizations that participated in the PEPFAR Strategic Information Capacity Assessment (PSICA) Survey, which highlighted the need for data quality assessment training among local partners, the first session was attended by more than 30 people from six organizations implementing HIV prevention, care, and treatment for general and priority populations in five countries.

JSI staff have more than 40 years of experience partnering with local organizations and deep expertise in capacity strengthening. Our tools, such as the organizational capacity assessment, are widely used, and our performance benchmarking approach, which was used in the development of the Data.FI PSICA tool and survey is adaptable to remote capacity assessment approaches and enables self-assessment as well as results comparison.

The course provided insight into all aspects of data quality processes and procedures, with emphasis on the application of USAID/PEPFAR HIV treatment cascade quality assurance tools. It emphasized the importance of data and information for decisions to improve clinical outcomes; challenges to ensuring high-quality data for projects and organizations; and concepts and principles guiding data management. Training sessions provided information and guided course participants through practical exercises using best-practice tools and methodologies. They also sought to increase participant ability to generate high-quality data and make data-based decisions.

Participants liked the patient and data flow, tally, and system assessment tools, and appreciated the practicality of the course content. As one participant said, “The scenarios put forward are what I face in the course of my work.” They were also pleased with the training approach; another participant said that “The training was well organized with plenty of chances to interact and get clarity.”

Demand for the training was so high that Data.FI repeated the course in January 2021. This time, nearly 80 participants from 23 local organizations in 13 countries attended. This is a testament to the need to enhance skills in this area, and the benefits of user-friendly training for new partners.

Interested in joining the next English or French training course? Email Jessica Posner at datafiproject@thepalladiumgroup.com.

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