Deployment to Tajikistan for Immunization Data System Assessment, 2017
By LT Colleen Scott
Global Immunization Division
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
What was the mission of this deployment?
Mission: to conduct a Routine Immunization Data and Information System Quality Assessment; Dates: March 2, 2017 - March 18, 2017; Location: Tajikistan
What was your role during this deployment? What skills (scientific, personal, etc.) did you use during your deployment?
Role: Team Lead of missiont to revise and modify assessment protocol and data collection tools and lead the CDC/WHO collaboration in logistic planning, a desk review, data analysis, and in-country field assessment activities. We also consolidated a final presentation and report for Ministry of Health, WHO, and CDC.
Was this your first deployment?
What was the most important thing you learned during this deployment? Any tips/tricks to share with fellow scientist officers?
Working in former Soviet countries requires increased partnership building with in-country programs/agencies to ensure logistics and assessment activities can be successfully implemented during the allotted in-country assessment time-frame.
What did you enjoy the most (e.g., favorite memory) about this deployment?
Leading a fantastic team of three other CDC epidemiologists and coordinating with the European WHO office staff and Tajikistan Ministry of Health colleagues. It was a fast-paced, long-day TDY with a great group of scientists.
What would you consider to be your major accomplishment stemming from this deployment?
This was my first experience leading (as Team Lead) a large-scale assessment with a team of fellow epidemiologists. We arrived in-country and immediately initiated a training and orientation workshop for our field assessment teams, deployed to the field to collect data, analyzed data, and consolidated findings into an out-briefing final presentation, all within two weeks.
What were some of the main challenges that you experienced during this deployment?
There are a lot of regulatory structures and requirements needed for foreigners working or operating within Tajikistan (former Soviet policies). Preparation for this TDY took several months, and additional meetings and briefings were required once we were in country as well. There were also field data collection challenges: all forms were translated into Russian, but in 2 sites a different language (Uzbek) was used by immunization staff.
How did you prepare for the deployment – personally or work-wise?
We worked closely with European WHO office to finalize protocol and tools, translate all the documents (background and desk review documents, protocol, and tools) between English and Russian. We managed and coordinated the field site selection, site preparation, and other logistical requirements to work in Tajikistan.
Were there any classes, trainings that you had completed prior to your deployment that helped you in your current deployment?
I took the Foreign Affairs Counter Threat training and Preparing for Work Overseas, which are required for TDYs. These are very helpful for personal and situational awareness and issues that may arise when on travel. These are great classes for scientist officers to take if they want to be eligible for TDYs overseas.
How was your post deployment/reintegration experience? Was it smooth to transition back to your daily life as experienced prior to deployment?
It was a smooth transition back. I've been on short and long-term TDYs during the last three years. I have a personal system in place for preparing to go and reintegrating back upon return.
Do you have any advice or “pearls of wisdom” for fellow officers who are being deployed/interested in deploying?
If you have a deployment or TDY "kit" you have prepped to take with you (or take with you regularly) - make sure you check it before each deployment/TDY! I didn't check mine this time, and I ran out of toothpaste (easy enough to procure in most countries, but other items are not so easy - particularly medicine).
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