Visitor in SHARE Aileu Project - SHARE’s creative capacity-building in Aileu- By Maria Wang

Oct 18, 2011 12:00
Maria Wang is completing a Master of Public Administration in Development Practice at Columbia University. She is currently spending the (Northern Hemisphere) summer completing an internship with The Earth Institute in Timor-Leste, examining the constraints on, and opportunities for improving, food and nutritional security in the country.

She visited SHARE’s project in Aileu district to learn more about SISCas and PSFs, and how to build the capacity and effectiveness of people in Timor Leste.

Since 2007, SHARE has been working in Aileu district, Timor-Leste, to provide training for family health promoters (community health workers or PSFs) and conducting monitoring and evaluation of the weakest Integrated Community Health Services (SISCa) posts in the district.

The SISCas are sub-village-level mobile clinics designed to increase health service delivery outreach to remote populations otherwise not reached by permanent health facilities. Meanwhile, the PSFs help staff the SISCas alongside health workers and mobilize pregnant women, mothers and infants in the community to attend the SISCa when it visits the sub-village once a month.

Together, they considerably improve access to health care for a very sparsely distributed population, reaching villagers that live as much as 1 or 2 hours’ drive from the nearest health facility.

Under the leadership of Program Manager Ms Yuu Yoshimori and with the help of a dynamic team of Timorese staff, SHARE is working to increase attendance at the SISCas and the effectiveness of the PSFs.

Here are just a few examples of the very creative ways it is doing this:

• adapting behavior change strategies, such as story-telling with storyboards, to the Timorese context (so impressive have these been that the Minister of Health is interested in recording the story and airing the video on national television)

• constructing innovative tools like the wool-and-flannel Giant LISIO board (see picture) to demonstrate to PSFs how to read and use a Growth Monitoring Chart.

• recording songs, sung by schoolchildren in Ermera, to promote health-seeking behavior, which are played on the day that SISCa visits and will also be recorded and broadcast on community radio.

I was privileged enough to be hosted by SHARE in their Aileu office and get an insight into the many very creative ways they are equipping the PSFs with the knowledge, skills and tools to promote healthy behavior.

I was particularly impressed that SHARE’s approach is underpinned by considerations of sustainability – building the capacity of the District Training Teams who are responsible for training PSFs in the long-run, rather than training the PSFs directly.

SHARE is filling a much-needed gap in capacity, and having visited my first SISCa today and seen that a malnourished 26-month-old can be the same size as a well-nourished 8-month-old.

I hope SHARE is able to continue in Aileu, working with the community and health workers, for years to come.