Leaving Trinidad with Much More than a Side ah (sada) Roti

Ffyona Patel, 2014 GHLI Fellow

As I reflect on my fellowship with Trinidad’s South-West Regional Health Authority (SWRHA), I am energized by what we have achieved and what I am taking away. When I arrived, it became clear to me that the idea to pilot test a health information system (HIS) around non-communicable diseases (NCDs) had long been birthed but not quite developed. Toward this progress, stakeholder awareness around the idea, its roots and its benefits needed to be established and the project steering committee’s foundation, objectives, and next steps needed to be solidified.  


In the weeks that followed, I delivered project briefings to different SWRHA stakeholder groups, allowing them to learn about and engage directly with the project. Audience members shared ideas on how to develop a sustainable HIS to facilitate treatment and prevention of NCDs based on their unique roles.  


I also helped establish and routinize the steering committee’s action-oriented meetings – ground work which will hopefully create project champions among committee members and lead to a comprehensive pilot project. 


I learned that communicating information across stakeholders can empower.  This empowerment can translate into knowledge sharing and on-the-ground commitment toward project success; this has proven true for SWRHA’s vast system where stakeholders may have felt that system-level changes affected them but could not be affected by them. 


Thank you, SWRHA, for your hospitality. You demonstrate that health care leadership happens every day across many supportive, administrative, clinical, and managerial staff that work to provide quality patient care. I look forward to seeing your flourishing HIS for NCDs come to life and set precedent for T&T as a whole.

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