Equitable Relationships Between Communities & Researchers in Uganda

Johns Hopkins Center for Health Equity, Kampala, Uganda, 2019

The Johns Hopkins Center for Health Equity conducts research studies that explore approaches to addressing health disparities, trains medical providers in addressing health disparities, and collaborates with global and local communities who are affected by health disparities.


PURPOSE

The Johns Hopkins Center for Health Equity received grant funding to develop a toolkit for measuring the effectiveness of academic and community partnerships within Community Advisory Boards located in Kampala, Uganda and Baltimore, Maryland. The Center wanted community members themselves to design the toolkit so that it would be useful to CABs long into the future.

When I joined the team to facilitate the human centered design process, I shared with my partners at the Center that the most effective HCD processes are open to pursuing whatever problem definition and approach the community identifies for themselves. The Center demonstrated their trust in the HCD process and their commitment to being community led by moving forward with the HCD process with a willingness to accept that CAB members might identify something other than an evaluation tool as their priority need.


PROCESS

Along with my partner Nancy Molello, I facilitated a group of about 30 community members and academic researchers who are all a part of Community Advisory Boards (CABs) in Kampala, Uganda and Baltimore, Maryland. I led the group through the entire human centered design process over the course of a 2-day, practice-based training in Kampala. Knowing that there tends to be a large differential between the decision making power of academic partners compared to the decision making power of community partners within a CAB, I carefully created a training agenda that prioritized the perspectives of community members.

Following the training, prototyping teams tested and iterated their low-fidelity prototypes within their respective CABs.


OUTCOME

The training cohort developed three different prototypes which focus on improving community engagement, democratizing budgeting and work planning, and training CAB members for equitable collaboration. These prototypes will be combined, tested, and implemented across CABs in both Kampala, Uganda and Baltimore, Maryland.

Many community members and academic researchers shared that learning the HCD process had a significant impact on how they will approach their work into the future.

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