Health Research in Togo: Imagining the Future

2 minute read

I finished this year’s household survey feeling pretty energized and hopeful about what we’ve set up for the future, both in terms of capacity-building at the clinic and in terms of the potential to use these research results to benefit our community.

The data collection process went so smoothly that multiple staff members at the clinic have started brainstorming how they could use the same software, KoBoToolbox, in their departments to facilitate quality data collection and eliminate tedious and error-prone data entry.

Me leading a training on KoBoToolbox data collection software for staff members at the clinic. Photo courtesy of Alicia

I also spoke to a former colleague and great Togolese friend about plans to start using KoBoToolbox for data collection at Pathways Togo, a girls’ empowerment and education NGO she works for, and it was exciting to get to share ideas and help her figure out ways to overcome the same data challenges that we were facing last year.

NGO Pathways
NGO Pathways
Pathways, the NGO my friend Sahaletou works for, who are about to adopt a similar data collection system. Photo courtesy of Alicia

I spent this year’s survey training Agnès, my best data collector from last year, to take over for me when I leave. More exciting than just knowing she’s ready to carry out this specific project next year, now we have a Togolese staff member who is ready to manage rigorous research if our organization ever decides to tackle another research project.

Research is incredibly powerful. With the 2015 baseline data we were able to find out things like disease prevalence, which could help us order the right amount of medication, and proportion of women giving birth at a health facility, which gave us a sense of how to best focus our efforts in a way that would benefit both the women coming in to the health centers and the ones we had to reach at home. Now, with another year’s worth of data we can find out what has been going well with the intervention and which areas we need to improve. At the end of this research project, once Agnès has completed two more household surveys without me, we’ll be able to do an in-depth evaluation of this intervention and advocate for the adoption of its successful components on a much larger scale, which could potentially bring innovative, quality maternal and child health care to the whole country or even beyond Togo’s borders.

Alicia currently volunteers in Togo with the help of a Christianson Fellowship from the InterExchange Foundation.

U.S. Department of State-Designated J-1 Visa Sponsor
Alliance for International Exchange
The International Coalition for Global Education and Exchange
European-American Chamber of Commerce New York
Global Ties U.S.
International Au Pair Association
WYSE Travel Confederation