264529 Using existing social networks to improve knowledge exchange among family planning and reproductive health professionals in Ethiopia

Monday, October 29, 2012 : 3:00 PM - 3:15 PM

Sarah V. Harlan, MPH , Department of Health, Behavior and Society, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Center for Communication Programs, Baltimore, MD
Tara Sullivan, PhD , Department of Health, Behavior and Society, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Center for Communication Programs, Baltimore, MD
Samson Estifanos Hailegiorgis, MD, MPH, PhD , Independent Research Consultant, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Sisay Wagnew , Research Consultant, Johns Hopkins University, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Despite the government's commitment to improving health outcomes, Ethiopia's family planning/reproductive health (FP/RH) indicators are generally poor. However, strong knowledge management/knowledge exchange (KM/KE) systems can facilitate the flow of urgently needed FP/RH information at the point of care. The Knowledge for Health Project conducted qualitative research among zonal-level health professionals – who oversee district-level programs – to determine ways to transfer the latest life-saving FP/RH information into practice. Researchers conducted interviews, focus groups, and a Network-Mapping exercise in four zones (collections of districts with semi-autonomous government bureaus), representing a range of access to resources and information and communications technologies. Participants named “actors” (organizations working in FP/RH), along with their relative influences and roles in facilitating or inhibiting KM/KE. They also discussed information needs and challenges. Thirty-nine actors were identified, and the network is highly centralized: information exchange primarily occurs through government bureaus. Faith-based organizations are also influential. Participants lack FP/RH information, especially in local languages. Face-to-face communication – including the “Dagu” tradition of two people exchanging recent information – is the preferred method. Mobile phones and radio are also widespread. Most health workers lack computer skills and reliable Internet connections. In conclusion, zonal-level health professionals urgently need simple, appropriate, up-to-date FP/RH information. A stronger KM/KE system is needed, which should incorporate existing communication methods – including “Dagu” – and faith-based organizations. KM/KE programs should also leverage relationships with influential community members. Improved FP/RH professional networks could facilitate exchange of evidence and best practices, enhance service delivery, and improve health outcomes.

Learning Areas:
Assessment of individual and community needs for health education
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
1. Analyze and compare the family planning/reproductive health (RH) knowledge management (KM) system in four zones in Ethiopia. 2. Explain key determinants to zonal health professionals’ access to – and use of – the latest health research and best practices. 3. Identify appropriate knowledge management and knowledge exchange (KM/KE) interventions to increase the use of evidence in programs and practice.

Keywords: Evidence Based Practice, Reproductive Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I worked on the report associated with these results, and will help disseminate the results of the study to stakeholders. I have a master's in public health and have over 10 years of experience working in the field of international family planning and reproductive health.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.