An Internship at Interact Worldwide Provides an Insight to Issues Surrounding Reproductive Health Rights in Development Countries.

Tracey Rosen is an MSPH candidate in the Population, Family, and Reproductive Health department at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Last year she was given the opportunity to intern at Interact Worldwide. Interact Worldwide is a sister concern of Plan UK that works to improve the sexual and reproductive health of, and attainment of, sexual and reproductive rights of marginalised populations. Tracey gives an account below of her experience and some of the learning’s gained.

What did your internship involve?

I conducted a review of all programmes at Interact Worldwide from October to December 2011. This involved providing an assessment of the organisation as a whole at the outcome and impact level, as well as providing recommendations for process improvement. I reviewed all mid-term and final programme evaluations conducted within the last two years; and I also conducted interviews with all London staff, two Country Programme Advisors, and two employees of local partner organisations. I presented my findings and recommendations to the staff in addition to submitting a final report.

What motivated you to do the internship?

While most of my previous experiences had been with child health in the US, I was looking to explore the area of international health and to develop my programme evaluation skills.

What did you gain from the experience?

My internship at Interact Worldwide helped me achieve both of these goals. I was able to provide them with a much-needed overall assessment while learning about the issues surrounding sexual and reproductive health (SRH) rights in developing countries. This experience also allowed me to plan and execute my own project with support from Interact and Plan staff, a challenge I enjoyed and appreciated. Overall, my experience at Interact Worldwide helped me further my knowledge base and skill set in a lively and supportive environment.

What were some of the key findings from the research/assessment you carried out?

I led a meta-evaluation of 11 of Interact’s Programmes which are delivered through partners. The study made the following findings;

  • Awareness of SRH and Rights amongst partners staff – whilst there was a good knowledge of SRH, there could be an improvement with regards to awareness of Rights
  • Access to services – nine partners said access to services had improved through their programme
  • Stakeholder involvement – Four of 11 programmes noted issues with stakeholder involvement
  • Maternal health – all projects have been successful in increasing assisted births
  • Partner capacity – all programmes felt supported by Interact and that programme management skills had improved
  • Programme - Interact is good on relevance and efficiency of projects but needs to improve on sustainability

What insights did you gain on the issues surrounding reproductive health rights in developing countries?

Stigma and uptake of services remains a hurdle for young people when accessing SRH in programmes throughout Africa and Asia. SRH programmes for young people tend to include peer education and engaging youth in collaborative activities or 'edutainment'. Peer educators use edutainment in their community to reach more young people.

"The research that Tracey has carried out has been invaluable to Interact. One of her key findings was the need for us to focus more on sustainability when working with partners to ensure that the impact of our work is as long lasting as possible", Alan Smith, Chief Operating Officer, Interact

"Tracey’s research has validated Plan’s Young Health Programme projects; specifically her research showed that in India 80% of young people taking part in the project said that they got most of their SRH information from friends. This shows the importance of peer educators which we are using for the Young Health Programme in India, Brazil and Zambia", Sumita Banerjee, Adolescent SRH Advisor, Plan UK