Johns Hopkins Gazette: June 12, 1995

SPH Workshop Assists Health Communication

International Health Officials Team Up Around Computers

Cynthia Salter
Special to The Gazette

     Using the computer mouse, Fatma-Zohra Lebdiri moves the tiny
arrow on the screen to a box that reads "Show Graph" and clicks
the button. A series of bright red bar graphs appears on the
screen, and Lebdiri and her two teammates begin reviewing data
for Turkey's infant mortality rate. Another click of the mouse
button brings up turquoise-blue bar graphs that show how Turkey's
rates compare with international benchmarks set by World Bank

     Lebdiri and her teammates are using SCOPE, an interactive
computer software program that teaches people how to design,
plan, implement and evaluate effective health communication
projects. SCOPE leads the user through a multistage approach to
information, education, and communication (IEC) planning that
takes into account audience, environment, and the health programs
and family planning activities in a given region. Housed within
the software are country-specific data, both quantitative and
qualitative, including such information as geographic
characteristics, population statistics and health indicators,
including the infant mortality rates Lebdiri's team has just been

     Lebdiri's team and nine others like it are part of the
"Advances in Family Health Communication" workshop offered by the
Center for Communication Programs at the School of Public Health.
A total of 30 international health program planners and
administrators from 15 countries have come to Baltimore for the
four-week workshop, which opened last Monday and will run through
July 1.  

     The workshop emphasizes "learning by doing," and during the
course of the workshop, participants will design an IEC program
for Turkey, using data supplied them by the software program.
They must keep to a budget, make decisions about strategies and
cope with the unexpected.

     "In experiential learning, the process is more important
than the product," said Benjamin V. Lozare, chief of the training
division at CCP. "They know there is no single right answer.
Mistakes are inevitable and desirable--people learn from their
mistakes. In SCOPE it is not a crime to make a mistake; the crime
is not to learn from the experience.

     "SCOPE teaches them that decisions have consequences and
involve trade-offs," Lozare continued. "One of its most important
values is its ability to promote internal dialogue."

     Now in its eighth year, the workshop is an opportunity for
high-level decision makers and program managers from family
planning and health programs around the world to learn how to
implement dynamic health communication projects. CCP generally
receives about 200 applicants worldwide for the 30 workshop
spots. The learning atmosphere is open, lively and friendly. 

     Computer time with SCOPE complements a series of
presentations and and interactive lectures by Hopkins trainers,
including Lozare and Phyllis Tilson Piotrow, CCP's director, as
well as other CCP staff members and faculty from the School of
Public Health. This year's workshop included a special
presentation by Haryono Suyono, Indonesian minister of state for
population, well known among international health providers for
his pivotal role in Indonesia's hugely successful national family
planning programs. The school dedicated a conference room in his
honor during his visit last week.

     Workshop participants bring rich and varied experience to
the program.  Lozare said that they learn as much from each other
as they do from their Hopkins training guides. Lebdiri, for
example, is a communications specialist from Algeria. Her
teammates are Julius Ndungu Kaberere, a program officer with the
Kenya Association of Youth Organization, and Sonalini Hiro
Mirchandani, the resident adviser for CCP programs in India.
     "Their experience really gets a chance to come out, using
SCOPE," Lozare said.  "It is a highly participatory program, and
the process is very much a dialogue among the three team members. 
And it is learning by doing."

     SCOPE itself is a CCP team product, developed in 1992 and is
now used in workshops here and overseas. The workshop uses the
SCOPE version for Turkey but versions also are available for
Bangladesh, Egypt, Ghana, India (Uttar Pradesh), Indonesia (East
Java), Nepal, Peru, Russia, and Tanzania. Some versions are in
French and Spanish; Russian and Hindi versions are planned.

     "SCOPE is not an expert system that provides comprehensive
and instant answers," Lozare said. "And it is not a substitute
for good thinking." Instead, he added, it stimulates thinking and
discussion, providing participants with a better appreciation of
the IEC strategy development process.   

     "We have used SCOPE with people who have never touched a
computer before, and they just jump right into it," Lozare said.

     As the workshop participants finished one of their first
sessions using SCOPE, Lozare asked them what they thought of the
computer program and the team approach.

     "Having a team, working together--it really makes a
difference," said Shadreck Jombe, an IEC officer with the
Zimbabwe National Family Planning Council. "Many things would
have been missed if one person was doing this by himself."

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