60 Seconds with…Itad’s Health Theme

Our ‘60 Seconds with…’ blogs are designed to provide a quick run down of what our staff do here at Itad. In an exciting new format, we’re talking to the entire Health Theme about what they do…

Who makes up the health theme?

The Health Theme is made up of five people, bringing together a complementary mix of experience and skills covering cutting edge technical research and evaluation methodology, as well as substantial programming and leadership experience working with donors and implementing agencies at HQ and field level. Together, we have over 44 years of experience in international development and M&E and we are strongly committed to our values of technical excellence and making a difference in the World.

Jon Cooper, Associate Director, leads the health portfolio and joined Itad in 2014, following six years with Marie Stopes International, as a Country Director in Uganda and then as Global Director of Evidence, Strategy and Innovation. Marc Theuss, Senior Consultant, joined the Health Theme in 2015, bringing with him a diverse mixed-methods M&E and research expertise and significant overseas experience in South-East Asia and East Africa. Emma Newbatt, Senior Consultant, has been with Itad since 2013, having previously worked in women’s and children’s health. Giada Tu Thanh, Consultant, joined the theme in 2015, after spending over four years in Brussels, managing M&E projects commissioned by the European Commission. Emma Mulhern, Consultant, and the latest addition to the Theme, joined earlier this year, having worked on programme design and implementation in Sierra Leone and Zimbabwe.

How has the health theme evolved?

The Health Theme has evolved extensively over the last few years, growing from a predominantly HIV/AIDS focus in Sub-Saharan Africa to a wide-ranging portfolio spanning Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. The Health Theme is always seeking ways to expand into new areas, while also drawing on and leveraging the Theme members’ strengths. Itad is a community of practice with over 70 team members, and we invest in knowledge sharing across our themes in terms of new methodologies, to build optimal evaluation teams and to tackle thorny issues.

Who else does the health theme work with in Itad?  

We work across themes wherever we can. Recently we’ve been doing a lot of work with Organisational Effectiveness, and Gender. For example, Jon and Emma M have been working with colleagues in Organisational Effectiveness on an evaluation of a strategy applying human-centered design to improve family planning and reproductive health in Sub-Saharan Africa. Emma N is working with colleagues in the Gender space to design the programme monitoring framework and impact evaluation for the Addressing Violence Against Women and Girls Through Sport programme, implemented by the British Council in association with the Premier League.

What is the health theme working on right now?

Our health portfolio is very diverse and we’re working on some really exciting projects, with a range of different partners including philanthropic organisations, UN agencies, DFID and other UK government agencies, and country governments. Some of the highlights of our current portfolio include:

  • We are engaged in a multi-dimensional evaluation of Adolescents 360 (A360). A360 is a $30 million programme jointly funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation to encourage modern contraceptive use among girls aged between 15-19 in Ethiopia, Tanzania and Nigeria. We’re collaborating with great partners, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and Avenir Health, to monitor, evaluate, and develop learning from the A360 programme. Together, we are conducting an Outcome Evaluation, Process Evaluation and Cost-Effectiveness Study of the programme over the next three years.
  • We have been contracted by DFID to conduct the evaluation of the China-UK Global Health Support Programme (GHSP), designing and implementing an evaluation that captures baseline and endline data, complemented by a mid-term evaluation.
  • We are coming towards the end of an evaluation of UNICEF’s efforts to support scale up of prevention of mother to child transmission of HIV (PMTCT) and Paediatric HIV care and treatment programmes over the past decade. This evaluation incorporates a mixed methods approach, utilising case studies, structured document review, key informant interviews and an online survey to unpack and test a reconstructed theory of change.
  • Itad has worked in a partnership with Euro-Health Group to undertake an evaluation of 3 Millenium Development Goals Fund (3MDG) in Myanmar. The Fund is a major health sector player in Myanmar. $243.5 million has been dispersed through the Fund from 2012-2016. Itad is involved in designing and implementation of the final evaluation of 3MDG. This incorporate a mixed methods approach employing a diverse array of methods and approaches. Methods include: analysis of complex secondary data-sets; cost-effectiveness analysis; conflict-analysis; Political Economy analysis of policy decision-making; qualitative evaluation. The evaluation will lead into a process of high-level strategic decision-making by the 3MDG FB and associated actors in the run up to a transition process as 3MDG comes to a conclusion in 2017.

How would you categorise your evaluations?

Our theme has undertaken a wide range of assignments across multiple countries for a diverse client base.  We evaluate strategies (e.g. UNICEF PMTCT), organisational models (Clinton Health Access Initiative), the impact of interventions (A360), cost effectiveness (DfID: India VFM), theory based replication models, more broadly as the monitoring, evaluation and learning partner to an implementing agency, and to test the effectiveness of interventions through process evaluations (A360).

What new innovations are you excited about in your sector?

An exciting innovation in the arena of M&E in Health is the use of mobile telephony and social media as a means of engaging specific target groups and generating data through interactions with target group members. For instance, A360 involves a partnership with Triggerise. Triggerise are composed of marketing experts who use social media and mobile telephony to engage with target audiences in Low Income Countries. In the context of A360, Triggerise will be using social media and mobile telephony to monitor key intermediate indicators (for instance knowledge about contraception). This provides an exciting means of engaging with adolescent girls who are particularly motivated to communicate through the medium of social media and mobile telephony.

We’re also interested in the use of innovative mobile phone technology to support better health interventions. For example, our colleague Melanie Punton is working with the Institute of Development Studies to evaluate the impact of a mobile app on the quality of nutrition counselling in Indonesia.

What has been a recent highlight for the health theme?

We have really exciting things in the pipeline – watch this space! As a result, we’re expanding the Theme. This is a great opportunity for us to bring new skills and expertise on board.

Itad’s Health Theme, October 2016

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