Assessing health needs of future beneficiaries is an important aspect of INSPIRE Pakistan and the first major research activity. The qualitative working group planned to conduct, in each of the selected districts (Chitral, Malakand, Mardan, and Kohat), at least four focus group discussions (FGDs) with the community and three in-depth interviews (IDIs) with the doctors, to assess the status of met and unmet health needs of the poor population in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
In each of the districts, local mobilizers, who had also worked for the population panel working group, arranged a place and gathered the identified participants for the FGDs.
In December 2021, the qualitative working group headed to Chitral for the first leg of the fieldwork. It was quite fascinating to see people having such a strong bonding with each other, as almost everyone knew about their entire neighborhood. The working group was able to successfully conduct more than four FGDs – within the resources – in one of the hardest terrains of Pakistan. The team found that healthcare services in Chitral are less complex due to their limited options for beneficiaries; hence there was little diversity in the experiences of FGD participants.
After finishing data collection in Chitral, the qualitative group members reflected on the field experiences. The team discussed issues regarding fieldwork, timelines for covering other districts, a plan of activities for the next districts, switching the roles among moderator and note-taker, filling the debriefing and demographic forms, and strategies for carrying out the transcription of all the interviews from the fieldwork.
In the third week of January 2022, the team started data collection in Mardan district. The efforts of the team resulted in excellent data collected.
In the end of January, the working group visited the first union council of district Malakand. The local key informant arranged a place for gathering and identifying the participants for the FGDs. On February 4, the team visited the second union council of District Malakand for the remaining data. The people of Malakand were very hospitable, which made the visit and fieldwork joyful.
The fourth and last district for needs assessment activity was Kohat. Despite challenging circumstances due to political unrest, the qualitative team was successful in carrying out all the data collection. Overall, the people of district Kohat were very cooperative and open about their issues. The diversity of languages, with Hindko also being spoken by the locals in addition to Urdu and Pashto, enriched the experience even more.
The several weeks of data collection across various terrains of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa gave the qualitative group the opportunity to meet different people and learn the importance of teamwork as well as peer support from other working groups. For example, this work would have been impossible without the help of the local mobilizers, who had also helped to facilitate interviews in the population panel. While there was a lot of joy in traveling and meeting new people, their stories of illness and poverty were sometimes heartbreaking. At the end of the day, focusing on the potential value of this work kept the team going, which is now eagerly looking forward to the results of their work.
Written by Sikandar Sultan