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“Write for Success”

I have decided to start doing some things that haven’t been done before in communications.  I want to start an incentive based communications strategy to allow the Access Project District Health Advisors (DHAs) to take an active role in finding stories that will help showcase the project’s work. This strategy will hopefully motivate the DHAs to send in more content and help me to meet my goal of four articles per month from the field.

Incentive based compensation isn’t a new idea to the DHAs. In Rwanda, performance based financing (PBF) initiatives are a powerful way to improve the quality of health services. These PBF initiatives take many forms and are used to strengthen health systems in the control of TB, HIV/AIDS, and other illnesses. The Access Project recently launched the Single Stream Funding TB program, with financial support from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. The program provides incentives to community health workers (CHWs) who detect suspected cases of TB within their villages and take these people to the nearest health facility. The CHWs are paid US$45 for each TB patient that receives care and another US$51 for when that patient completes their treatment! Offering incentives and compensation packages are a useful motivator for achieving success in any field, so taking a lesson from my Pfizer sales managers as well as the PBF strategies in Rwanda, I decided to start implementing financial incentives for developing stories from the field. One of the biggest challenges that I have had in developing content is the lack of information about the things happening in the field. Initially, I had to go into the field to look for the success stories and write about them, but there are too many activities taking place for me to be present at all of them. The only viable solution is to get the DHAs invested in the value of success stories. The feedback that I received from them following several requests for success stories was that they were too busy and didn’t have time to write any stories. Others confessed that the language barrier was the biggest issue for them in writing stories. To combat these challenges, I recently created the “Write for Success” contest.  The contest consists of six guidelines for gathering information from the field. Shanaya Deboo, a Pfizer colleague who worked with the Access Project as a Communications and Media Fellow in 2009, developed the questions, which follow basic who, what, where, when and why parameters. For example, the first question asks “Who is being impacted by this intervention?” The following questions ask, “What was the impact of the intervention?” and “Why was the intervention the best possible way to solve the problem?” After answering the questions with as much detail as possible about the people and places involved, the person who sends me the most stories from the field will earn a small monetary prize. The DHAs can use the money either for personal reasons or for funding a new initiative within their districts. Finally, by simplifying the requirements for entry and adding a monetary prize, this will eliminate time and language barriers. I hope that similar to the PBF strategy for CHWs, the quality and quantity of articles will increase over the next two months.

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