December 2, 2016

Smartphone-Based Survey Program at Johns Hopkins Receives Two Grants for Large-Scale Performance Monitoring

View All News

A smartphone-based survey project at Johns Hopkins has received two additional grants totaling $8 million from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to expand data collection in low-resource settings for performance monitoring of health programs. The Performance Monitoring and Accountability 2020 (PMA2020) program, led by The Bill & Melinda Gates Institute for Population and Reproductive Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, currently collects data on family planning, water, sanitation and hygiene, maternal and neonatal health, nutrition, primary health care and schistosomiasis in more than 10 low-income countries.

The first is a $3 million grant called PMA Plus, which will build a a female empowerment questionnaire to monitor gender equality.  It will also conduct longitudinal studies to answer key questions around contraceptive demand and use dynamics and test PMA2020’s platform as a sample civil registration system to improve vital statistics.  The expanded platform can assist in monitoring the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) due in 2030. PMA Plus will also seek to strengthen alliances with national and global partners around data measurement needs of the SDGs and to equip countries with the tools for measuring program performance against these goals.  Principal Investigator Dr. Amy Tsui, Senior Technical Advisor for PMA2020 and Professor, with Dr. Scott Radloff, PMA2020 Director and Senior Scientist, both in the Population, Family and Reproductive Health at the Bloomberg School, will lead PMA Plus

The second is a $5 million grant called PMA/Agile, which will be focused on rapid monitoring of contraceptive service delivery at the health facility level in multiple countries. PMA/Agile will largely be focused on urban areas and rely on mobile data collection methods. The platform will be used for performance monitoring of a large scale social marketing program, under DKT International, and The Challenge Initiative (TCI), which is focused on a global expansion of the reproductive health initiatives in urban poor settlements, especially in Africa and Asia.  TCI is led by the Gates Institute. PMA/Agile’s design is flexible in order to be able to monitor performance of other health and development projects in rapid time and at lower cost. Dr. Amy Tsui and Dr. Ian Salas, Research Economist in the Gates Institute and Assistant Scientist in the Population, Family and Reproductive Health Department at the Bloomberg School, will lead PMA/Agile.

“Implementing PMA Plus and PMA/Agile will require a diverse range of scientific and technical expertise; the Gates Institute will be engaging various faculty experts at the School to take advantage of emerging mobile technologies that support rapid turnaround while maintaining the precision and quality of the data collected. The School is in an excellent position to provide such expertise,” says Dr. Michael J. Klag, Dean of the Bloomberg School.

PMA/Agile relies on mobile data collection methods and is therefore designed to be adaptable to be used for performance monitoring of various types of programs,” explains Dr. Tsui. “The grant will allow us to gather information from different data systems at the health facility, client, population and areal levels to build record linkage and statistical models to understand the drivers of behavioral change. Findings from performance monitoring and impact will be generated in collaboration with government, academic and other non-government partners to inform and guide changes in programs.”

“We are excited about these two grants that allow us to test the versatility of the PMA2020 platform for collecting different types of data in new and innovative ways that can be useful to country governments and stakeholders as they track performance against their health goals,” remarks Dr. Win Brown, Senior Program Officer and PMA2020 Grants Manager at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

“These two grants build on the track record of the Gates Institute in developing innovative platforms for performance monitoring and evaluation with country partners, oftentimes positively disrupting ‘business-as-usual’ approaches that can be time-consuming, complicated to implement and expensive to execute,” observes Jose Rimon II, MA, PgDip, Director of the Gates Institute and Senior Policy Advisor for PMA2020.