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Data Become Personal to Resident Enumerators

What happens when the population data that you collect become so personal and real that they impact you – literally?

After the first day of training for the new PMA2020/Uganda schistosomiasis survey, field supervisors mentioned that their Resident Enumerators (data collectors) had asked them about the possibility of being tested for schistosomiasis. Why wouldn’t they want to know their status, after all?

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The REs participated in an educational session on treatment of schistosomiasis, and were given the option to test themselves, working in pairs. If results were positive, an on-site physician was present to offer treatment. The previous day, REs were being trained to handle anonymous urine samples, whereas this particular day, the samples were their own.

One of the supervisors noted that many of the REs were nervous to find out their status – some were even physically shaking while trying to handle the urine samples. And some of them were right, unfortunately – a handful of samples came out positive.

The PMA2020/Uganda team came back together for a session on dosing and treatment. Two of the REs who were tested positive willingly volunteered to go through the dosing exercise immediately after the testing, and even consumed the pills in front of the entire class, providing feedback in real time. “Not bad,” one of them reacted to the taste.

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Both REs expressed their gratitude profusely. “Thank you so much for educating us about schistosomiasis and the opportunity to test ourselves,” one of them said.

“I feel much more empathy now for the survey respondents who live in areas where schistosomiasis is a common disease. The disease does not discriminate who it will infect. It can happen to anyone – poor or rich,” another RE said. “I now feel better prepared to comfort the respondents who will be anxious to know their results, because I just went through the same thing.”

Data collection for the first round of the PMA2020 schistosomiasis survey is underway in Uganda as of October 14, 2016.

Click here for more information on the PMA2020 survey in Uganda.