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No. 4, 2009

NEW SECTION: TB PROGRAM EVALUATION NETWORK UPDATES

Welcome to a new section of TB Notes! Starting with this issue, TB Notes will include a section dedicated to information and updates from the TB Program Evaluation Network (formerly the Evaluation Work Group).

Successful First Conference of the TB PEN

The first annual TB Program and Evaluation Network (TB PEN) Conference was held July 27–30, 2009, in Atlanta, in conjunction with the 9th Annual TB Education and Training Network (TB ETN) Conference. The conference was deemed a success by all accounts, as evaluators were brought together for the first time from all over the country to meet, share ideas, and receive valuable training related to TB program evaluation.

There were a total of 56 participants representing 47 states, the District of Columbia, seven big cities, and one Regional Training and Medical Consultation Center (RTMCC). The purposes of the conference were to

  • Share details of the TB PEN formation with participants;
  • Establish a TB PEN governance structure that will support collaboration within TB control programs in implementing evaluation activities;
  • Share information on technical assistance and other evaluation capacity building activities;
  • Inform participants about comprehensive strategies and activities that seek to address successful program evaluation activities; and
  • Identify best practices and systemic approaches that address the challenges and practices of evaluation activities in TB control programs.

In a pre-conference meeting held on July 27, participants were shown the results of the interim steering committee’s efforts in preparing draft network bylaws. After general presentations that helped the participants understand how the concept of TB PEN was developed and that explained the development of the by-laws, the participants had a final opportunity to provide input into the by-laws and reach a consensus on the structure and governance of the organization. Ultimately, the final by-laws were adopted and TB PEN was official.

The agenda of the conference offered many opportunities for the participants and planners to meet the objectives mentioned above. Multiple plenary and breakout sessions were held to carry participants through the evaluation process, introducing technical assistance, resources, and tools available for use.  These included basics of TB evaluation, how to use the National TB Indicators Project (NTIP) in program evaluation and progress reports, the role of the TB PEN Focal Point, and the development of logic models. Best-practice examples were shared, allowing for additional learning opportunities.

In the end, participants were able to leave with increased knowledge and understanding of expectations for TB program evaluation. There were ample opportunities for everyone to meet and hear from a variety of colleagues from across the country—fellow experts whom they can now contact for support and technical assistance in the future. Probably the most valuable lesson learned for many is that TB program evaluation is a doable process that will add benefit to programs, and that no one has to feel that they are alone in the process.

—Reported by Phil Griffin, Melissa Ehman, and Steve Hughes
TB PEN Interim Steering Committee

Thoughts on the TB Program Evaluation Network

We share the following as a small glimpse into the many talents of Chris Hayden, who retired from a long and productive career in TB control at the end of August 2009. He wrote this a few months after attending and being inspired by the TB Evaluation Work Group/Program Evaluation Network meeting in November 2008.

As a long-time advocate for evaluation—30 years with DTBE (including 15 years in the field), and 10 years with the NJMS Global TB Institute—I was honored and pleased to participate in the Strategic Planning Meeting on TB Evaluation last November.  With new national TB objectives, a consistent and efficient way to monitor progress towards achieving these objectives (via NTIP), and several well-tested evaluation tools to identify the root causes of success or failure in meeting objectives, TB programs should be well-poised to more efficiently and effectively carry out evaluation activities that will result in significant program improvements.  Furthermore, I believe that the evolution of the Evaluation Working Group (EWG) to the TB Program Evaluation Network (PEN) will further support evaluation capacity building in TB programs.  Finally, I came away with the lofty notion that—

The PEN is mightier than the sword
The PEN excels when all come aboard
The PEN will weave a stronger cord
The PEN uncovers causes ignored
The PEN embraced yields rich rewards
The PEN leads programs to be restored
The PEN brings adversaries to accord
The PEN will sound a richer chord.

—Chris Hayden (Ret.)
Div of TB Elimination and NJMS Global TB Institute

 

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