Our team is proposing a community-academic partnership to build capacity to assess the reach and impact of communication initiatives that utilize ICTs in Senegal and West Africa more generally. The UCLA-RAES-UCAD Health Communication and ICT Research Training Program will use a problem based learning approach with West African graduate students who will learn how ICTs are used to communicate health information and health communication research methods. UCLA Fielding School of Public Health faculty in collaboration with social science faculty from Cheikh Anta Diop University (UCAD), Institut de Science de L environment (ISE) in Dakar, Senegal will train 10 doctoral students per year with 30 trained over the grant period. The training will be structured as an intensive short course with skills based practice components. A comprehensive curriculum in ICT health communication development, implementation and research will emphasize formative, process, and summative evaluation for mass mediated communication so that students acquire basic evaluation skills. As part of the training, students and faculty will collect and analyze data from a currently funded regional transmedia health communication initiative called C est La Vie, organized and funded by collaborative partner Reseau Africain D Education pour La Sante ( RAES). C est La Vie, has as its mission, transforming how health care services especially for maternal and child health and reproductive health are used, understood and delivered at the population level in West Africa. We also propose to use digital hardware and software to collect and analyze the monitoring and evaluation data collected in as low cost and sustainable fashion as possible. Overall, research education aims include building the capacity of West African social researchers to describe, evaluate, and analyze planned health communication initiatives; using digital hardware and software to collect and analyze data; and leveraging existing collaborative projects with long term partner in Senegal (RAES) and with a large public University in Senegal (UCAD) to benefit faculty and student learning by having them participate in actual health communication intervention evaluation. Thus, students trained will become the next generation of experts to document and stimulate innovation in new media and health interventions in Senegal and francophone West Africa more generally, as well as attaining the skills to participate in global academic and research culture in health communication.
There is strong need to increase the number of graduate students in LMICs who are well trained in public health, behavioral science and program evaluation research. The proposed Short-term Research Education Program UCLA-RAES-UCAD Health Communication and ICT Research Education Program will use both didactic and practical problem-based learning is geared to increase the number and quality of trained African professionals who can conduct this kind of research and apply these methods to ongoing health communication or other behavioral science initiatives in Africa.