The Call to Adventure – a Human-Centred Design Traineeship Experience

posted Jul 4 2020

I’m Daberechukwu “Darbie” Nwandikom, a Medical Doctor from Nigeria and this is my CcHUB Design Traineeship experience. 

The Call to Adventure

April 2019, outside the House Officers quarters in Imo State University Teaching Hospital, I just finished my evening ward round and was sitting in silence with Dr Okey Amako who was busy scrolling through twitter on his brand new Samsung Galaxy S8.

“Have you heard about this CcHUB Human-centred Design traineeship?”, Dr Okey said 

“What is it about, “I replied.

That was it. We spent the rest of the evening browsing and reading up stuff about the design traineeship and about design in general on the internet. 

Completing the application was a huge task! There were lots of questions to answer (looking back, I think I know who designed that form).

My application was chosen and shortlisted for Skype interviews. I was subsequently accepted into the traineeship and we left Nigeria for the CcHUB design lab in Kigali, Rwanda in the first week of November 2019. 

Design Bootcamp 

Kigali is a beautiful place, it was my first time in Rwanda and I was enthralled, everyone should visit there at least once. I am definitely going back!

As soon as the Bootcamp began, we were introduced to human-centred design tools and mindsets with our tutors ‘Bosun Tijani, Tomi Jaiyeola and Obo Henshaw. We also had a mini design challenge following the Human-centered Design (HCD) processes which we learnt.

We were divided up into teams and I was grouped with best colleagues ever; Noelle Aryanyijuka, Anais Simpenzwe and Martins Iyekekpolor.

We worked on issues surrounding DTP3 vaccine coverage and we came up with exciting solutions and prototypes which we presented to the Rwandan Biomedical Center officials.

The team also had sessions and dinner dates with mentors like Adrian Jankowiak of Nairobi Design Week, Patrick Buchana Nsenga of AC Group, Silas Adekunle of Reach Robotics and Sessions on Zoom with mentors who work with Netflix, Booking.com, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the UK government.

By the end of the one month Bootcamp, we had honed valuable skills that came in handy while working with the partner organizations that we were assigned to subsequently.

The Practicum 

On return to Nigeria, I and Mr Martins were assigned to The National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) which is a government parastatal in charge of primary health care. We resumed our practicum in their ultramodern office building at Port Harcourt Crescent off Gimbiya Street, Garki, Abuja.

The first week, we got introduced to some officials of the parastatal like Dr Murtala Muhammad Babagana (technical advisor to the ED/CEO NPHCDA) and Mr Taiwo Adebesin (Assistant Chief Scientific Officer/Project supervisor) who put us through on the agencies mandate and sections they might need our design expertise. 

With support from the Design Lab, we came up with a design challenge which was “Improving Routine Immunization Data Quality in Primary Health Centres in Abuja”, 

We used creative methods to gather data and information whilst researching the challenge. These ranged from interviews with stakeholders to group discussions with health workers to observations of the routine immunization sessions and literature reviews. 

Following the field research, we analyzed the information we elicited from the first phase of the practicum, drawing insights, and identifying themes and patterns which helped us afford a better understanding of the challenges of routine immunization data, and discover new concepts and ideas.

Tools we used include user personas and stories. We also generated questions which helped us co-create practicable concepts with the routine immunization health workers and relevant stakeholders which were refined into operative solutions.

We now got to the hands-on stage of the project which involved prototyping, employing the skills we picked at the Bootcamp which included making flowcharts, paper prototypes, low fidelity mockups, digital wireframing (for the Electronic Health Facility Routine Immunization Database).

We were about to test and make improvements on our prototypes when COVID-19 struck!!

Whew…..

We rounded up and made efforts to get home before the nationwide lockdown.

All in all, the CcHUB Design Lab Traineeship is the most eye-opening experience I have had because it helped me find my niche; Public Health, Design and Technology.

Also putting me in a position to develop solutions that could improve the health of children in Nigeria. I’m so delighted that Co-Creation Hub/Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation created this opportunity for us to change the narrative in Africa using design.

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