Yesterday was a big day for our neonatal resuscitation training program (NRP) train-the-trainer project. For a few years we've been working in collaboration with the College of Midwives of Perú (Colegio Obstetras del Perú) on a bold undertaking to train every professional midwife in the country in NRP.
It is virtually impossible for even the best trainer to train an entire country of health providers in NRP, so Dr. Robert Gehringer (Medical Director for HBI) has been training teams of trainers who are tasked with conducting their own trainings. Its a domino effect approach to knowledge generation and skills acquisition.
Like any project this bold, there is an important and ever present need for accurate planning, concise communication, and ongoing relationship management. All of that is to say - the partners need to work very closely. To say the project has been unsuccessful would be a complete mischaracterization. Quite the contrary, Dr. Gehringer has grown a model program with training sites (trained trainers) in over 16 departments (i.e., states or regions - there are a total of 26 Colegio Obstetras regions in Perú). He has trained over 100 "trainers" who have gone on to train hundreds more professional midwives in the knowledge and skills of saving babies lives. It is a model program! And, the program has not been without challenges.
So, yesterday we met with the senior leadership (elected for three years terms) of the National Colegio Obstetras del Perú to discuss our impressions. It would have been very easy to go into this meeting with a list of "demands" (we did have a list) and mandate changes. It would have been easy to say, "we need you to . . . " But in reality, rarely do mandates build relationships - instead they construct resentments. As such, we went into the meeting with a sincere appreciation for the opportunity provided by the collaboration with the Colegio Obstetras del Perú and we had a conversation. A conversation about challenges, opportunities and insights into ways we can work more collaboratively into the future. We emphasized the relationship over the project.
Certainly, in my Executive Director role, I expressed our concerns and our desires to refine certain components of the program. I spoke about our desire to work together to grow the program into a model that can be expanded to other parts of Latin American and around the world. And, I asked for the commitment of the leadership of the Colegio to program.
What I realized in our meeting was this - a relationship like we are building with the Colegio Obstetras del Perú is an almost daily commitment. It requires continuous attention and action. It's a lot like brushing your teeth. If you brush your teeth only every once in a while - chances are you will have more dental problems than not. However, if you commit to the daily brushing of your teeth - then the daily act of dental care will more than likely (along with a healthy diet, adequate water intake and lifestyle prevention measures) lead to good oral health. Relationships require continuous attention. They're not static. And, all good programs and projects are built on healthy relationships.
So, as we move forward - we are committed to the daily relationship building needed to assure every professional midwife in Perú has the knowledge and skills they need to save infants lives. What else can we do?
Thank you for your continued support.
The HBI Blog is a rotating journal from our staff. Our Blog is a series of messages from the field, insights from our work, and lessons in service.