12 Common Mistakes to Avoid as a Public Health Consultant in Africa
m y previous article I outlined some strategies that can help you to be successful as a public health consultant in Africa. In this follow-up article I point out some key pitfalls to avoid.
Public health consulting in Africa is a challenging field that requires consultants to navigate complex social, cultural, and economic factors that affect health outcomes in different communities. While there are many strategies that can help consultants succeed in this field, there are also certain pitfalls to avoid. Here are 12 things to avoid as a public health consultant in Africa:
- Not delivering on time and taking on work that is beyond your exepertise
Meeting deadlines is critical in any consulting work. Failure to deliver on time can result in missed opportunities, loss of credibility, and damage to relationships with stakeholders. I have often been tasked to take on work because a previous consultant failed to deliver on the work or they have taken too long to deliver on it. This often arises at times by taking on work which may be beyond your level of knowledge and expertise. It is okay to not take on work that you are not well-qualified for.
- Using a one-size-fits-all approach
Using a single approach to address complex public health challenges can be ineffective or even harmful. It is essential to tailor interventions to the local context and to take into account the unique needs and challenges of different communities.
- Not being conversant with the local context
Public health consultants who are not conversant with the local context risk developing interventions that are not well-suited to the needs of the community. It is essential to understand the social, cultural, and economic factors that affect health outcomes in different communities.
- Not getting buy-in
Building strong relationships with stakeholders and gaining their buy-in is critical for the success of any public health intervention. Failure to do so can result in interventions that are not well-supported by the community, which can undermine the effectiveness of the intervention. As a consultant you are often only there for a short period of time and it is these stakeholders who will make use of your input and carry the work forward so it is critical to engage them throughout the process and get their buy-in.
- Inadequate engagement of key stakeholders
Engaging key stakeholders is essential for successful public health interventions. It is important to work closely with local healthcare providers, community leaders, and non-governmental organizations to build their capacity to work towards better health outcomes.
- Not looking for and involving expertise you do not have yourself
Public health challenges in Africa can be complex and multifaceted, and may require expertise that the consultant does not possess. It is important to involve other experts and stakeholders who can contribute to the development of effective interventions.
- Shoddy writing
It does not matter how technically proficient you are, if you cannot express your thoughts well in writing you will not succeed in consulting work. Poor writing can undermine the credibility of a public health consultant and their work. It is important to invest time and effort in developing clear, concise, and well-written reports and other documents. Invest in improving your writing skills.
- Spreading your efforts too thin and taking on too many jobs at once
Taking on too many jobs at once can lead to burnout, decreased quality of work, and missed deadlines. It is important to manage your workload effectively and to prioritize your assignments.
- Not building a team
Building a team can be critical to the success of public health interventions. It is important to identify and recruit team members with diverse skills and expertise, and to work collaboratively towards common goals.
- Over-pricing yourself
Over-pricing can lead to missed opportunities and damage to relationships with stakeholders. It is important to price your services competitively and to be transparent about your pricing structure. Check what other consultants charge for similar services in your setting.
- Underpricing yourself
Under-pricing can lead to financial difficulties and can undermine the perceived value of your work. It is important to price your services appropriately, taking into account your skills, expertise, and the level of effort required for each assignment. Under-pricing can also put pressure on you to take on more work, which will be detrimental to the quality of your work.
- Not building in enough time to do the assignment well
Public health interventions can be complex and time-consuming. It is important to build in enough time to conduct thorough research, analyze data, and develop effective interventions. Be open to negotiate the timing of deliverables with your hiring organization and advise on realistic timelines that will enable you to do a good job.
In conclusion, to be a successful public health consultant in Africa, it is important to avoid these 12 pitfalls. By delivering on time, tailoring interventions to the local context, building strong relationships with stakeholders, engaging key stakeholders, involving diverse expertise, investing in clear and effective writing, managing workload effectively, building a team, pricing services appropriately, and building in enough time to do the assignment well, public health consultants can have a huge impact.
How to Thrive as a Public Health Consultant in Africa: 7 Strategies for Success
As a public health consultant, I get a lot of requests on how to be successful in this industry and deliver value. This article is a summary of some of teh key lessons I have learned over the years, working in Public Health in most regions of Africa.
Public health consulting is an important aspect of healthcare in Africa. Public health consultants work with government agencies, healthcare organizations, and other stakeholders to improve the health outcomes of communities across the continent. As a public health consultant in Africa, there are certain skills and strategies that can help you succeed in this field.
- Develop a deep understanding of the local context
To be a successful public health consultant in Africa, it is important to have a deep understanding of the local context. This includes understanding the social, economic, and cultural factors that affect health outcomes in different communities. It also means understanding the local health system, including its strengths and weaknesses, as well as the resources that are available. What work in the West may not be as successful in Africa, due to many contextual factors which differ from region to region and from country to country.
- Build strong relationships with stakeholders
As a public health consultant, you will be working with a wide range of stakeholders, including government agencies, healthcare providers, community leaders, and non-governmental organizations. Building strong relationships with these stakeholders is key to success in this field. This means developing trust, being responsive to their needs, and communicating effectively. Delivering on time is another key aspect of building such relationships.
- Use evidence-based approaches
Public health consulting in Africa requires a strong focus on evidence-based approaches. This means using data and research to inform decisions, and developing interventions that have been proven to be effective in similar settings. It also means staying up-to-date with the latest research and trends in public health. You thus need to be widely read and up to speed in your area of expertise.
- Be flexible and adaptable
Public health challenges in Africa can be complex and multifaceted, and they often require a flexible and adaptable approach. This means being willing to change course when needed, and being open to new ideas and perspectives. It also means being able to work effectively in a range of different settings and contexts.
- Collaborate with local partners
Collaborating with local partners is essential for success as a public health consultant in Africa. This includes working closely with local healthcare providers, community leaders, and non-governmental organizations. It also means building capacity among local partners, so that they can continue to work towards better health outcomes even after you have moved on to other projects.
- Communicate effectively
Effective communication is essential for success as a public health consultant in Africa. This means being able to communicate complex ideas and data to a range of stakeholders, including those who may not have a strong background in public health. It also means being able to communicate effectively across cultures and languages.
- Stay committed to the mission
Finally, to be a successful public health consultant in Africa, it is essential to stay committed to the mission of improving health outcomes for communities across the continent. This means being willing to work tirelessly, even in challenging circumstances, and being motivated by the knowledge that your work is making a real difference in people’s lives.
In conclusion, being a successful public health consultant in Africa requires a deep understanding of the local context, strong relationships with stakeholders, evidence-based approaches, flexibility and adaptability, collaboration with local partners, effective communication, and a commitment to the mission. By focusing on these key areas, public health consultants in Africa can make a significant impact on the health outcomes of communities across the continent.
Mastering the Art of Success: Lessons from The Road Less Traveled and Think and Grow Rich
The Road Less Travelled and Think and Grow Rich are two books that I have read several times and that have greatly impacted my life in terms of how I think about success and how I have developed myself as a person over the years. The Road Less Travelled in particular has been instrumental in shaping my views about life, spirituality and living by the truth. Many decisions I have taken would have no doubt been very different had I not read these books.
I thought I would share some key lessons in summary form, that could also help you on your journey.
The Road Less Traveled by M. Scott Peck is a book that combines spirituality and psychology to help readers live a more fulfilling life. The book focuses on the importance of self-discipline, personal growth, and a willingness to face and overcome obstacles in order to achieve true happiness and inner peace.
Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill, on the other hand, is a classic self-help book that focuses on achieving success and wealth by developing a positive mindset, setting clear goals, and taking persistent action.
Here are some key lessons from both books:
- Self-discipline is key: Both books emphasize the importance of self-discipline in achieving success and happiness. Peck argues that self-discipline is necessary for personal growth and that we must be willing to delay gratification and work through difficulties to achieve our goals. Hill similarly stresses the importance of self-discipline in achieving success, urging readers to cultivate habits of persistence and determination.
- Overcoming obstacles: Peck believes that life is difficult, and that we must face our problems head-on in order to grow and achieve happiness. Hill also emphasizes the importance of persistence and perseverance in overcoming obstacles and achieving success.
- Positive mindset: Hill argues that our thoughts and beliefs shape our reality, and that we must cultivate a positive mindset to achieve success. Peck also stresses the importance of positive thinking, but cautions that it must be balanced with a willingness to face reality and deal with problems as they arise.
- Goal setting: Both books emphasize the importance of setting clear goals and taking action to achieve them. Hill outlines a step-by-step process for setting and achieving goals, while Peck stresses the importance of developing a sense of purpose and direction in life.
- Personal growth: Peck argues that personal growth is a lifelong process that requires self-reflection, self-awareness, and a willingness to confront our own shortcomings. Hill similarly emphasizes the importance of personal growth and self-improvement in achieving success and happiness.
Overall, both The Road Less Traveled and Think and Grow Rich share similar themes of self-discipline, perseverance, positive thinking, goal setting, and personal growth. By combining the lessons from both books, you can gain a more holistic understanding of what it takes to achieve success and happiness in life.
“You are all you can be. Go on and be it!“
Actions Vs Words – decoding the truth
What we believe is strongly influenced by our desires and perceptions of life. Sometimes when dealing with other people we may be stuck between believing their actions or their words when there is a mismatch between the two. What do you do in such cases in order to properly navigate life and make the right decisions?
Research Tips – Be focused in your research design
Many researchers, particulary emerging researchers, in their passion for their particular research areas fall into the trap of trying to do too much all at once. As a result, their research is not focused and may even have trouble attracting funding. Here are some things to consider when deciding on your research topic and getting it laser focused.