Week 2: More Training & DREAM appreciation post
I can't believe I've already been here for a week and a half! The days have been flying by and it seems like I just arrived in Pakistan. After a successful first week, I'm super excited for week number two. This week will predominantly be spent on training of the child assessment tool. In global health, there are two main types of tools that we use to measure child development: individual measures and population measures. Population measures are useful for understanding the overall child development status of a community, country, or region. These are often inexpensive, quick to administer, and cross-culturally valid. The major drawback of population level assessments is that they are often imprecise, and may not catch the most nuanced differences in development among children. Therefore, for our study we are using an individual level assessment known as the Bayley Scales of Infant and Toddler Development, fourth edition (BSID-IV). This tool is very precise and the third edition has been used in this setting before. However, it is quite expensive and resource intensive. It takes between 15 minutes to an hour to administer and requires bringing a subset of toys in a small briefcase to each child visit. As such, we are dedicating this week to training on the tool, which includes 4 days of classroom trainings and 2 days of training and testing in the field.
I also want to use this blog post to express how lucky I feel to be able to collaborate with DREAM NGO, which stands for the Development and Research for Children in Early and Adolescent Years of Life. Saima, my Co-Principal Investigator, has both a Masters Degree in Education and over 15 years of experience conducting child development research and implementation work. After working as a field manager in Naushahro Feroze for Aga Khan University for 13 years, she has decided to start her own non-governmental organization dedicated to child development work. As an external researcher, working with DREAM has been such an incredible experience for a variety of reasons. First, our research team is entirely made up of individuals who live and work in Naushahro Feroze. As such, they have developed a great deal of trust with our study participants and community leaders. Second, in addition to being able to employ a very strong team of RA's, all of our research activities directly contribute to the local economy. As this validation study requires a relatively large number of study materials, we are able to employ local carpenters and toy makers to produce them, local restaurants for our study team meetings, and even local grocery stores and markets when buying incentives such as juice and candy for our study participants. In a lot of research projects, there are strict rules about who is allowed to provide the study materials, and they often are imported from abroad or from another region, so we feel very lucky that our work is contributing to this community in every way. Lastly, DREAM will continue to host and partner with future research groups, so this work is sustainable. All of the training that our RA's are receiving for this project will be important for future work. For example, they are one of the first groups of RA's (if not the first) to receive training in the fourth edition of the BSID. After this experience, I definitely will recommend partnering with DREAM to my colleagues interested in child development work.