Leading Voices: Meet Jay Shetty

October 30, 2018

Leading Voices: Meet Jay Shetty

Meet Jay Shetty, Analytics and Reporting Senior Manager in Pfizer’s New York office—and one of two amazing Global Health Fellows (GHFs) to have worked with MSH in Tanzania this year.

The Pfizer Global Health Fellows Program pairs colleagues with partner organizations like MSH for volunteer skills-sharing assignments. Over his six-month fellowship with MSH, Jay generously lent his professional experience and technical skills to the Tanzania Technical Support Services Project (TSSP) in Dar es Salaam. With TSSP, Jay focused on a health information system initiative, aimed at improving client management and health service delivery. Through the project, MSH is providing assistance to the Tanzania Ministry of Health in key technical areas to help control the HIV epidemic and sustain HIV-related health systems and services.

Could you tell me a bit about your background and what inspired you to pursue the Pfizer fellowship?

Yes, I’ve been working with Pfizer for the last 23 years, beginning as a consultant for almost 14 years in the business technology, project management area, then as a colleague since 2010. Currently, I work in the analytics and compliance reporting area, supporting business areas like clinical trials, publications teams.

The Pfizer GHF program shares the skills and expertise of colleagues to help address gaps in access to health care services in underserved communities around the world.

MSH was looking for a fellow with my skills and experience to support the TSSP in Tanzania. I was lucky enough to go through the interview process and am proud to have been selected as a Fellow.

What has it been like for you, professionally, to work in Tanzania?

Working in the corporate world and in the NGO world are two very different experiences. The work environment in the corporate world is much more structured, whereas in the NGO world, one must be hands-on with everything in order to really focus on the tasks to achieve it on time with very minimal help or resources. Also, to understand the nature of work takes time. But, once I started understanding my fellowship responsibilities, and started working with the MSH team and other stakeholders in the field, the work became much more interesting. I enjoyed every bit of the work. I made great connections with people, and we worked very well as a team. I am also equally satisfied with my work (digital health implementation for different health facilities) which makes a direct impact in the community to facilitate the delivery of health care services more effectively.

I did not know anything about Africa or African culture before I came here. I was born and brought up in India, but lived in the US more years than I lived in India. So now, being able to work for six months in Tanzania is an eye opener. Tanzania is such a beautiful country with wonderful people, and a great culture. They are always welcoming. When you step out, people greet you and say “Karibu” (welcome). Sharing is caring for them. It’s amazing to see the love of people, the friendly nature of people, genuinely caring for one another. I really fell in love with this country and the culture.

Can you give a quick overview of the work you’ve been doing in the last six months?

TSSP supports and provides technical advice to the Ministry of Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly, and Children (MoHCDGEC) and other key public health institutions to achieve HIV epidemic control and sustain HIV-related systems and services. TSSP is funded by the United States President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

I came here to lend a helping hand with digital health implementation in the health information system projects, such as electronic medical records (EMR) and client registry (CR). The work is mainly focused on helping health facilities get ready on the infrastructure side to roll out the EMR, test the system, gather requirements, technical documentation, and shared health records (SHR). I was also involved in providing support for EMR training, meetings, and developing technical recommendation documents for CR. SHR is a means of sharing health data across health information systems so I learned a lot about open health information exchange, interoperability, open medical record system, District Health Information System (DHIS 2) etc.

I also worked in the monitoring and evaluation space for a little bit and helped the technical advisor go over the yearly indicator progress process for TSSP, understand DHIS 2 and reporting. I also worked briefly with the quality assurance and quality improvement advisor to look into the star rating processes, analyze data to find out the status of the result-based financing incentive program, etc.

[Pfizer GHF, Jay Shetty, (left) with Principal Technical Advisor, Paul Bwathondi, (right) at the MSH office in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.] {Photo Credit: Jonx Pillemer/Pfizer}

Is there a piece of advice you would give to other Global Health Fellows?

Of course. You must come in with an open mind and be ready to pull up your sleeves and start learning and working. Ask questions to understand the work clearly. The sooner you start working and get used to the situation, the surroundings, etc., the faster you will be able to learn and start contributing. Be ready to accept the challenges. That’s what I can tell them. And, enjoy whatever you do and show enthusiasm, absorb everything. Learn the culture and travel.

What do you like to do when you’re not working, in your free time?

At home, I spend time with my children. I enjoy all sports, jogging, gardening, traveling, hiking, enjoying nature—any outdoor activities. I also work in the community whenever possible.

Are you watching a lot of baseball over there in Tanzania?

No, not at all. Soccer is a major sport here. Apart from that, I was able to watch some cricket games as well. I root for the Yankees and the New York Knicks.

Thank you for all your hard work and dedication to this project, Jay.

It’s my pleasure. I had a great bunch of people working with me here in Tanzania. They are caring, helpful to one another, and great teammates; it’s a family atmosphere here. This has been a humbling experience I will cherish for the rest of my life. Thank you MSH and the team in Dar es Salaam for giving me this opportunity. Asante Sana!