It has been an exciting month for the Sayana Press team in Uganda – and, tangentially, an exciting month for me!
After successfully launching a nationwide scale up of the provider-injected Sayana Press drug in 2016, the PATH team has been focusing on introducing self-injection. After several months observing self-injection in four target districts, the team set out to conduct an evaluation with the goals of, 1) finding out whether self-injection is working for women in rural areas and 2) learning which variation is most cost-effective.
I joined the team as they were wrapping up their first phase of the evaluation: interviewing the providers who were training women to self-inject. In the second half of my internship, we were busy preparing to launch the second half of the evaluation: interviewing users themselves. Throughout both phases, the team also facilitated monitoring visits at each site to support the field teams. It turns out, starting when I did was a perfect time! I was able to observe the launches of both phases as well as join the team in the field for monitoring visits and jump in on some trainings.
One of the trainings was conducted in July. I joined the team’s Scale-Up Manager, Edson Twesigye, to travel to Mayuge district in Eastern Uganda to orient new providers to the program and “train the trainers” in self-injection. We visited two facilities, Kityeyera Health Center IV: a bustling, district-level referral clinic/hospital, and Muggi Health Center III, a sleepier, more rural center still serving a fairly large population. Observing how Edson facilitated the training sessions offered a lot of insight into PATH’s training methodology, and I enjoyed the chance to also facilitate my own sessions as well. I spoke to the groups about the procedure for using the self-injection register, a reporting tool developed by the team to ensure accurate data collection. The team had found in other sessions that the register was sometimes confusing for providers and was being filled improperly, particularly a few vital questions. I enjoyed the chance to discuss their challenges with them and we were able to clarify several key points. This exercise was an informative opportunity to improve my understanding of data collection tools, especially as we focused on data entry at the point of service delivery.
A key component of training is reviewing and practicing the self-injection procedure with each training team. Self-injection is a 10-step process which is led by a “job aid” – a series of pictures, each with a corresponding instruction, that guides a user through prep up to completion of the injection. There are four critical steps: mixing the solution by shaking the vial, activating the device, pinching the skin at the injection site (abdomen or thigh) to make a “tent”, and then pressing the reservoir slowly to inject the drug. It was exciting and illuminating to watch the training team in action!
After returning to Kampala from Mayuge I joined the team in completing our remaining duties to prepare for Phase II of the evaluation: client survey administration. This training offered even further opportunities for observation, learning and practice. Overall, I had an amazing internship with the PATH team in Uganda. I look forward to following the Sayana Press project further and delving into the results of the evaluations!