One of the challenges of applying Human-Centered design (HCD) to Adolescent Sexual Reproductive Health (ASRH) is that it is an emergent field of practice in global health. It has lacked a much-needed benchmarking tool that practitioners and investors alike need in order to support their understanding of what quality approaches look like in program design and implementation in this specific field.
On January 20, 2022, we launched the the first-ever Quality and Standards Framework, a critical resource that guides the effective and inclusive practice of human-centered design in adolescent sexual and reproductive health (HCD+ASRH) programming. It has been created by experts and validated by our Community of Practice. Ultimately, this framework will benefit practitioners and those new to the field, to pursue best practice in this field and “contribute to more relevant, user-centered and effective ASRH programming,” says theA360 Amplified team.
“HCDExchange’s Quality and Standards Framework is a much-needed contribution to the HCD Community of Practice . . . and to be reminded that there are still many areas where we can and should continue to improve. . . ” – A360 Amplified
The virtual launch event had nearly 200 participants from the community and featured speakers from YLabs, HCDExchange, the Quality and Standards Working Group, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and the William & Flora Hewlett Foundation. There was a lively discussion with participants that included experienced practitioners, newcomers and funders keen to understand how to implement this new tool that can help evaluate program quality.
What is the Quality and Standards Framework?
The framework includes eight principles to guide the effective and inclusive practice of human-centered design in adolescent sexual and reproductive health (HCD+ASRH) programming. It includes simple and actionable tips and resources for the growing HCD+ASRH field of practice.
The 8 Quality and Standards principles highlighted in the framework are:
- Engage youth as design partners
- Ensure equitable inclusion of different subsets of young people
- Develop and implement safeguarding plans for young people.
- Embrace an iterative approach to program design and implementation
- Integrate primary and secondary learnings and evidence
- Engage the ecosystem of influencers
- Integrate disciplines essential for adolescent wellbeing
- Document methods and key design decisions
Highlights from the launch event
On the importance of integrating disciplines (principle 7)
“We are tasked today with solving complex social problems and we can’t do it from one discipline alone. How do we bring together different minds and different ways of seeing and examining a problem and thus leading to a solution? We do that by being truly interdisciplinary,” says Dr Tracy Johnson, Expert Member of the QSWG and Senior Program Officer on the Global Delivery Programs’ Insights Team at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
On the principles that are important for evaluators
Dr Sandra McCoy, an Expert Member of the QSWG and Associate Professor of Epidemiology at UC Berkeley School of Public Health says one of her favourite principles is principle four which calls for the embrace of an “iterative approach to program design and implementation” because although evaluators are not designers, it is important to be “respectful and to anticipate that there is an iterative process to the solutions that are being developed in the design process.”
She also adds that for evaluators, principle five which says “integrate primary and secondary learnings and evidence” means that “there is now some process and guidance on how to infuse solutions with prior knowledge to leverage and benefit those who came before us and to both pull on that evidence and make our solutions more effective.”
Lastly, she adds that principle eight; to “document methods and key design decisions,” is helpful for evaluators who have the task of documenting what is happening and sharing it with others. This is because in trying to be flexible and honor the HCD process, documentation has been a problem. This has created an inherent tension with the scientific process where documentation and reproducing processes and methods and sharing learnings through publications is important.
On defining quality “insights”
Dr Tracy Johnson describes insights as “a journey to the obvious” that includes a little piece of what you know and builds on it rather than it being a finding that is drastically new that it blows your mind. She also says that insights are inherently actionable so practitioners should be able to tell that they have built a high quality insight “when it points you towards the solution that you should be thinking about.”