Health Extension Workers are the foundation of Ethiopia’s new health decentralization program which aims to increase health coverage in the rural areas. These workers are based in areas where they are originally from; they are young and enthusiastic women and men trained in preventative care.
In summer of 2007, I lead a team of researchers in creating a visual literacy survey and needs assessment for Ethiopia’s community-based health workers in the Oromia region. We wanted to know what the role of health education and health education materials played in their daily activities. Determining what materials, images and visual aids would be most accessible to these workers and their specific context was also a significant part of our research.
The results of this research were applied directly to define the design environment for creating an illustrated childbirth resource manual. An evidence-based approach was used to determine the subject matter of this resource in addition to its size, level, language, design and layout of visual aids. Currently this 100 page manual is being translated and will hopefully be printed and distributed before the end of the year.
In addition, this research was accepted for presentation at Unite for Sight’s Global Health Conference at Yale University in April 2009.