In the last 11 weeks I have been on a professional development journey in acquiring more skills in the public health field which I have been working in the last 7 years both as a volunteer, program manager and consultant. Working on a technical and grant aid project currently which has to do with Strengthening Detection of and Response to Public Health Threats in Nigeria for almost a year now amidst the Covid-19 pandemic. I told myself it is time to give more to the project because usually what I am becoming and value I can add to any institution I found myself are one of my topmost goal. I decided to enroll for an introductory course in epidemiology at University of Washington, the course touched on the major topics of Study Design, Effect Estimates, Confounding, Bias, Measurement Error, Analyzing Qualitative Data and Public Health Application and Interpretation.
As someone with the opportunity in past projects in health system strengthen and knowing the importance of designing a project from scratch, the part of this course that stood out for me the most was the aspect qualitative data, its interpretation and application in public health intervention. Good data management is a necessity for strong work in public health. We are constantly collecting data in public health (both for research and program purposes). For these data to be useful to us, they need to be well organized and of good quality. Imagine how the use of data is evolving with innovative approach to information gathering and problem-solving techniques in public health today.
The future of health system strengthening for me is really in how we can transform all the data into solutions that guaranteed a good health and wellbeing for all to achieving the Universal Health Coverage. The course made me appreciate the work of public health practitioners’ more and how much of critical thinking and analytic skills is required in the profession. Now I am already starting the next journey even before the end of the course into becoming data analyst professional in the field of public health. It has been an interesting journey so far and looking forward already to how I can contribute to the world with the skills I have acquired to solving some of the health system problems across the globe.