It has been a wonderful week and a great privilege to collaborate with leaders from Zambia and Botswana ton plans to improve the quality of health and social services.  At the invitation of the  CDC-funded American International Health Alliance Twinning Program, and with the collaboration of their Zambia Country Director Ann Mumbi, I led a QI implementation workshop with a team of UW facilitators that included doctoral candidate, Jason Paltzer, and UW alumna and Global Health Institute staff member, Sweta Shrestha.

One challenging and exciting aspect of the program was that we brought together some very different types of organizations –  believing that the concepts about quality, the practical problem-solving tools, and the leadership principles would be relevant for all.  The partners in the group included the Palliative Care Association of Zambia, several Zambian teaching hospitals, leaders from ZAMCOM, which provides health communications expertise for the country, and leaders from the Zambian military health services.  From Botswana we had faculty members from an academic medicine setting,  leaders from an NGO umbrella organization that serves highly vulnerable children, and directors from two programs that do voluntary counseling and testing for HIV/AIDS.  They all worked in small group to develop improvement projects, giving each other feedback and encouragement along the way.

Did it work?  We think so ….. By the end of the week the participating leaders presented their strategic plans to each other and an audience that included national leaders, representation from the CDC, and the AIHA Twinning Program leaders.  We tried not to let the radio and TV crews go to our heads, but it was nice to see the work of the participants noted and celebrated!  Of course, this was not the end, but rather the beginning of the quality improvement efforts, since everyone hoped to go back to their organizations to carry out the planned changes as soon as possible.

While geography often conspires against us, this meeting is, thankfully, not our last time together, as many of the participants will be coming together again in July 2012 in Madison, Wisconsin to continue this work together!

Lori DiPrete Brown, Associate Director, UW Global Health Institute.

April 2012