Strategic planning is an often misunderstood process, promoted as an afternoon-long intellectual exercise featuring SWOT analyses, geometric shapes connected by bi-directional arrows, Venn Diagrams, and the rest of the paraphernalia that promise to stimulate logic and new insights. We, GDS, are not persuaded. We believe strategic planning is data-based and continuous, beginning with a determination of the information needed, painstaking design of data collection, scrupulous collection of those data, reiterative analyses of the information collected, all culminating in a guide that starts with the organization's objectives (usually there is more than one), sets priorities among them, details the limiting and favoring aspects of the environment, factors in available resources – current and anticipated – and specifies responsibilities and expected outcomes. Here are two examples:
Improvement Plan for Urban Immunization in Djibouti
GDS conducted a diagnostic of the immunization situation and a mapping of the health facilities and partners in Djibouti. These were used to develop a sustainable and costed strategic action plan in collaboration with core technical partners and stakeholders, including the EPI (Expanded Program on Immunization), MOH (Ministry of Health), Gavi, WHO, UNICEF and other private sector and NGO stakeholders. The work included: Examining the policies and strategies of the government concerning immunization coverage; mapping the service delivery in-frastructure; examining the supply and cold chain management system; conduct-ing a cost analysis; and preparing costed strategy to increase immunization coverage in the urban areas. This activity was a Gavi funded project.
Urban Immunization Strategy for Afghanistan
GDS completed an assessment of the immunization situation in the urban areas of Afghanistan. This included a review of the service delivery infrastructure involving public sector, private sector, and NGOs; location of health facilities in relation to population distribution; the EPI supply chain management system; the information system; staffing and skills; readiness of the health facilities for the delivery of immunization; characteristics of the urban population and their health seeking behavior; barriers to access, information and services; community participation; role of media in educating people about immunization; equity; overall costs and unit costs of immunization; and management of the EPI program. GDS designed an urban immunization strategy that focused on broadening the understanding of the diversity of urban populations and their health seeking behavior; rationalizing distribution of health facilities; increasing motivation for vaccination; understanding the causes of dropouts and left-outs; improving supply chain management and information systems; improving equity; and improving overall EPI management. The strategy also included a costed action plan with priority ranking of interventions and a monitoring and evaluation plan with specific indicators. This activity was funded by Gavi.