Notes
03 May 2022

Standard. Standardise.

Reading Time: < 1 minute

The community members were seated along the wall of a round hut in Rivercess, Liberia. The afternoon was warm and humid. Our faces glistened with sweat. A young mother, trained as a community health worker, stood in the centre. She used a standard manual to show how Malaria can be detected using a standard kit. I was amazed at the ease and competence with which she explained the process, administered the test and declared the young girl Malaria negative. Everyone sighed with relief.

This would have been impossible before 2008. Standard kits were not prevalent and there was no way to standardise their use. To set a standard means to define a level of quality that is desirable. To standardise means to bring into conformity with a standard. We have now evolved standards for areas such as education, climate action, economic inclusion and gender equity. Standardisation is challenging.

I believe that the young mother used a secret sauce besides the standard Malaria test kit and her standardised training. She exercised her agency to take responsibility, learn and serve her community. Agency is the ability to take action. Can I use the latent agency of the community to take action and make progress? If a standard is the destination, and standardisation the roadmap, is agency the fuel to help us get there?

Exploring: Why Standardisation Efforts Fail by Carl F. Cargill

Image Credits: Joanjo Pavon on Unsplash

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