Effective health planning requires good quality data, but many health facilities lack the ability to provide this. Health questions often have to be answered within specific research studies. Microcomputers are now generally recommended and used by researchers for data analysis at the end of projects. The article reviews the use of microcomputer based management of data collection during a study. A selection of pojects are described, all of which have used microcomputers in a decentralised fachio, closer to the point of data collection. The main advantages of this approach are a significant reduction in error rates, and the ability to produce data quickly.
Using questionnaires through an existing administrative system: a new approach to health interview surveys
A review of recent developments in health interview procedures within decentralised health planning emphasising the importance of beneficiaries' perceptions of their health problems in the success or failure of primary health care. The methodology used is that of 'indirect' health interviews channelled through existing administrative systems and self-administered by recipients. The article describes ongoing research designed to test this approach in seven African countries and discusses methodological problems and limitations.
Anthropological methods have been introduced into rapid assessment procedures (RAP) for a number of diseases and related health issues. This article discusses the suitability of the approach for health research in countries where tropical diseases are endemic. Adjustments to conventional methods are necessary, given the limited time in the field and the need to ensure the validity and reliability of data. Although rapid assessment has certain shortcomings and does not obviate the need for long-term studies, a mix of research methods, use of multi-disciplinary teams and attention to contradictions within the study population will produce valid data in a relatively short period.
Verbal autopsies are widely used to describe the causes of death in individuals who die outside of hospital or clinic settings, but are seldom validated. The technique assumes that disease which cause death can be easily distinguished from one another by distinct syndromes and that these are reported accurately by lay respondents. The article describes the potential problems of syndrome definition and the likely biases from poor recognition and recall by bereaved relatives; how these might be tested and what can be done when verbal autopsy cannot identify the cause of death.
This book describes a grassroots approach to empowering people for democratic social change. It explains participatory research using exemplarly case studies on community organizing, femist theory and ecological movements from a range of locations in North America. It challenges the relevance and validity of academic social science research.
Community assessment and planning for maternal and child health programs : a particpatory approach in Ethiopia
Summary report of a community health needs assessment carried out in five communities in Ethiopia. Government health staff and community members were involved in identifying and prioritising maternal and child health problems and planning for actions to help solve them. A limited number of maternal and child health behaviours that are critical to the prevention and management of the most important causes of childhood morbidtiy and mortality were used as a focus to guide planning. An integrated household survey was then used to measure the indicators of those behaviours.
Lessons from malaria control activities in urban West Africa using a research-action-capacity building approach
This paper discusses how a community-based approach - Research Action Capacity-building (RAC) - can be valuable for malaria control and more specifically for the dissemination of insecticide treated bednets (ITNs), using the case study of a bednet project in N'Djamena, capital of Chad. A description of the concepts and methods of the RAC approach is given, along with a comparison with the like-minded approach of Rapid Rural Appraisal (RRA) - the RAC approach emphasizing that social change is its ultimate goal. The potential of the RAC approach for mobilizing and strengthening community-based activities is discussed. In addition a report on the successes and failures occurring in the case study, of the initial stages of the net selling and impregnation centres is outlined. In conclusion, the authors propose two major points. Firstly, when promoting ITNs, technical, economic and social factors must be targeted. Lastly, collaboration and communication at local, regional and international levels are vital for a project to be sustainable.