The role of a district coordinator: A closer look
Act as an ambassador, information source and spokesperson for the system in the district
- You should feel proud of your role and your involvement in one of the best animal health information systems in the world. You are the local expert and the person most qualified to speak about how it works, the benefits it brings and the improved service it allows your staff to provide the community.
- The image you project will help your staff to feel equally proud to be active users of the system.
- The system is only as strong as the people who contribute to it, the information they provide and the benefits it provides to all its users.
- It will be important to stay well informed about the system in the context of the wider community too, and be able to speak about data security, data ownership, the strengths of the system and to reassure people about data privacy.
- It will also be important to stay up to date with new features and operating standards and by providing your staff with timely updates, reassurance and assistance when adapting to new features and operations.
Safeguard the philosophy and principles upon which iSIKHNAS has been built
- You should be familiar with the philosophy and founding principles which underpin iSIKHNAS.
- those involved in data reporting should be rewarded by their involvement with the system.
- involvement in iSIKHNAS should only enhance, support and ease the work of those reporting and working for the system.
- the system should never burden any users' normal duties but instead it should bring immediate and tangible benefit to their work.
- the system should give more than it takes from users to ensure that every user benefits from the system.
- provides a service to all its different users at all times and that this service should be responsive to changing needs of its users.
- So, with these factors in mind
- Users should be encouraged and rewarded, praised and thanked, never reprimanded or made to feel chastised. Mistakes and misunderstandings are usually the result of poor training rather than incompetence.
- Coordinators should think carefully about how their staff are responding and reacting to using iSIKHNAS and whether they can offer suggestions about ways the system might be improved.
Ensure users can access and refer to you easily and freely
- Coordinators should make sure their staff can access them easily with any queries, suggestions or problems. You will need to make sure that staff know your mobile phone number and are encouraged to call.
- Make sure staff can leave a message on your telephone if they call and you are not available. Call them back as soon as you can.
- If you are difficult to contact or unfriendly or unhelpful, staff will stop trying to contact you and you will lose their trust and confidence. This will inevitably have a negative impact on the staff and their morale, their willingness to work as a team and their levels of motivation.
- It is always a good plan to have at least two coordinators in each district - two senior staff members who are able to take the role of coordinator. This means the responsibilities can be shared during busy periods and allows for some real 'down time' for a coordinator who might be on sick leave, taking holidays, away for training or meetings.
- Coordinators need to be constantly monitoring the system and responding to errors, problems and issues in the administration of the system as they arise. They also need to be in touch with the animal health data being submitted - to monitor for priority reports, disease investigations, and potential problems. This can be a full time job so it makes sense to share it with at least one other person to make sure the coordination service is consistent, comprehensive and responsive.
- Because of the responsibility which accompanies the role of coordinator, it seems more sustainable one coordinator to be properly 'off duty' on alternate weekends or evenings, for example, while the other takes up the role.
Respond to requests for new data reports or suggested changes
- Make the system work for you and your district. Any requests for changes, suggestions for improvement or issues which arise in the field should be addressed quickly and communicated to the province/region and then the Champions. The system is flexible and can be responsive to district needs but only if the Champions are made aware that there is a need for change, a request for a new report, a problem which needs addressing.
- Your role as coordinator is to listen to your staff, respond to their needs and to try to improve the system in response to their input. The staff will appreciate it and you will win even greater respect.
User development and administration
Register new Pelsa and Dinas users correctly
- One of the core administrative responsibilities of the district coordinator is to register new users to the system. Once completed the user details compiled at registration will form the basis for many tailor-made features of the iSIKHNAS system. The user name will appear in official disease reports, for example, so should be complete, accurately spelled and use the correct capitalisation. The registered location of the user's usual workplace as well as their area of responsibility are important determinants for the flow of information and alerts. The person's mobile phone number is obviously of primary importance - every user is identified by their unique phone number.
Recruit and train new Pelsa and Dinas users in all relevant aspects of the system
- Coordinators have primary responsibility for the ongoing training of staff as well as the recruitment and maintenance of a strong network of pelsa.
- Pelsa are offered signs recognition training in conjunction with iSIKHNAS reporting training and extensive material has been produced to assist you in this task.
- iSIKHNAS is a comprehensive system which offers many different tools to ease the reporting and data analysis burden on districts. To ensure staff are not overwhelmed, the system has been divided into multiple smaller modules according to their different functions. Your job is to train staff in the use of these short modules, to make sure they practice and succeed in sending messages accurately and to give clear direction on how, when and under what circumstances they are to be used. Training materials and suggested practice activities have been designed to simplify your training role.
- We always recommend you commence with the general field disease reporting module as an introduction to the system for Pelsa and Dinas staff. Then, according to your own district priorities you can choose between any number of other key modules. This way, staff are introduced slowly and systematically to the system and the task of coordination and oversight is much easier.
Ensure user details are up to date
- User details are managed by coordinators through the iSIKHNAS website Manage : User details and Manage : User Settings.
- Sometimes staff will move, be rotated or change roles. Remember to up-date details as the changes occur.
- You may wish to reconfigure the individual user permissions for some users as they become more confident or attend further training.
- Staff should be reminded that they need to contact you immediately if they lose their telephone, or if their phone number changes.
Facilitate or assist training of specific user groups such as abattoir, production, police or health department, for example
- As iSIKHNAS grows more people and different types of users will become involved. As coordinator, you may have to be in conctact with local abattoir reporters, field staff who work in breeding and production and even police and human health workers.
- Most specialist groups will have their own coordinators, just as the abattoirs do, and it will always be good to keep in touch with the local representatives to share ideas and feedback on ways to keep the system strong.
Supervise and monitor all registered users in their area of responsibility
- One very important job will be to constantly monitor users' assigned areas of responsibility to ensure they are correct and up to date at all times and that any changes in staffing are immediately reflected in iSIKHNAS.
- Staff who move to other districts or provinces will have to be assigned a new registered area and reassigned a new area of responsibility. They may also need to be assigned as a different user type. The new district or provincial coordinator may have to do this. If there is any difficulty in doing this then contact the Champions.
Support and monitoring
Monitor the message log and respond quickly to problems in a supportive manner
- An error log message can be emailed to you daily.
- It is also possible to see the error log on the website by visiting the Reports : Users section - Listing of problem SMS messages by user
- The error log is a very useful tool for coordinators and should be referred to each day. It identifies users who are having problems with incorrect message formats, codes and other data. Remember: iSIKHNAS will not accept messages which are incorrectly formatted - this is to ensure the data that enters the system is error free - so any users who make mistakes are immediately sent a message from the system helping them to send the correctly formatted message. Encourage your staff to read these helpful return messages as they will help them to save time, frustration and pulsa.
- Coordinators can learn a great deal from user errors - weaknesses in training; poor understanding of concepts; poor knowledge, in treating disease, for example, and once the problem has been identified you can contact the person and gently and clearly explain where they are going wrong. A quick response from you will show how much you care about your staff, the data and good, efficient work.
- Errors are extremely useful training tools. You can play games with your staff during training and ask them to correct the errors or find the problem.
- Users who have frequent problems sending messages may need special tools to help them in the field - 'smart cards' or 'cheat sheets' to keep in their pockets if they don't feel confident about using their phone confidently.
Respond to feedback and questions from users in a timely and supportive manner
- Any user can send freetext feedback or questions using the Q message format.
- These messages will be forwarded to you and others automatically but it is your responsibility as district coordinator to monitor and respond to these messages quickly. Your response could be by SMS, thanking the person for their ideas or feedback. Or you may wish to telephone the user to answer their question.
- Your response to these messages will demonstrate to staff that you value their input, and are responsive to their questions or problems.
Assist para-vets to respect and support the work of village pelsa
- Pelsa play a really vital role in building good community trust and engagement with the veterinary services. Without Pelsa the system really is completely passive - dinas staff must wait for reports to come in from individual farmers. Most farmers will only report if they feel comfortable doing so, and confident that it will bring a positive (or at least not negative!) outcome.
- Passive farmer reporting is one of the cheapest and most extensive types of surveillance. Vets and some paravets will learn about this in the Field Epi and Surveillance courses which have been designed to support the iSIKHNAS system. Strong community relationships, good communication and trust are the foundation stones of any strong passive farmer reporting system. Pelsa act as a link or conduit between community and the veterinary service, making communication easier for farmers and, now with iSIKHNAS, ensuring greater response from the animal health staff.
- Paravets should be encouraged to get to know their local Pelsa, to talk to them respectfully and patiently and to include them, wherever possible, in any visits within the village. The respect your staff show will very likely spread within the community and the Pelsa will be used more.
- Pelsa will need support, encouragement, periodic refresher training and opportunities to offer treatment solutions to farmers to simple problems that don't require veterinary attention. For that reason, Pelsa can ease the work load of paravets for very mundane or routine problems, leaving more time for more important tasks or cases.
- Remember: Pelsa are the eyes and ears in the field and they can contribute significantly to the strength of iSIKHNAS.
- Coordinators will have to guage what the realistic response rates for Pelsa alerts will be in order to manage expectations and reassure Pelsa so that they can keep their communities informed.
Monitor and evaluate the performance of the team, set goals and priorities for improvement and development
- You should use the output reports in the Reports :Users and :System sections to examine the work of all the data reporters under your supervision to look for ways you can support or improve their work better.
- You and your team can decide how best to use your time and resources efficiently and if there are ways that staff could be encouraged to improve the quality of the service they provide, the efficiency of their work and their overall satisfaction with the work they are doing.
- You may want to think about ways of measuring and rewarding improved work. You know your staff best and what will work to motivate them. Remember: we all like to be recognised for improving the way we do things, or contributing in special ways, or showing initiative and good levels of motivation. Simple rewards and recognition go a long way.
Identify training needs of staff based on monitoring of field reports
- Using the Reports section of the website will help you to identify weaknesses in routine work as well as more specialised activities amongst the staff under your supervision.
- On close examination of the treatments, differential diagnoses and other aspects of their work, it will be evident where more refresher training is required.
- Refresher training doesn't have to take a long time or be planned as a special activity with additional costs. Sometimes it might be possible, for example, to spend half an hour with several paravets discussing particular cases and sharing opinions on how to treat or what samples to take.
- By using iSIKHNAS data your role as coordinator will be greatly supported. Over time you will gain a greater understanding of what your staff do and don't know, where they lack knowledge or experience and where your training budget can be targeted in the coming year.
Report technical problems, inadequacies or redundancies immediately to the Champions and Provincial coordinator
- There is no point in keeping your good ideas, suggestions for improvements or any disatisfaction about the system to yourself. It is very important to let other people know. The system has been built to respond to changing needs but change can't occur if users don't speak up.
- Talk ideas over with other staff then tell your provincial coordinator and the Champions if you think that others agree with you and your suggestions really do merit further consideration.
- All ideas and suggestion for improvement are welcome.
- Some may take time to implement, others are perhaps not possible, some may be able to be implemented immediately - the management committee and the Champions will consider all ideas for change.
Analysis and management
Assist in the analysis of data for the evaluation of activities, performance and priority setting
Assist in the analysis of data for the purposes of budget advocacy for support for ongoing and new activities
Make recommendations from the results of data analysis
Manage surveillance, vaccination and population data collection activities through iSIKHNAS
Register local infrastructure
Manage and update location codes within your area
Use of the website for administration and coordination