Tag Archives: Nigeria

Nigeria Champions Integrated Approach to NTDs at the World Health Assembly

 

Photo credit: U.S. Mission Geneva / Eric Bridiers

By Helen Hamilton, on behalf of the UK Coalition against NTDs

The first six months of 2014 have already seen a number of milestones reached for the international neglected tropical disease (NTD) community, including the successful NTD-focused side event at the 67th World Health Assembly (WHA) in May and the celebration of progress made on eliminating river blindness by the African Programme for Onchocerciasis Control  at the World Bank. A running theme throughout the discussions at these events has been the importance of taking an integrated approach to eliminating a number of NTDs by the end of the decade.

But what does “an integrated approach” mean in practice? It may mean integration of disease specific interventions into broader public health systems, across different groups of diseases or integration across sectors. Integration is not just another buzzword, but a real approach to effectively controlling this group of diseases. Both evidence and common sense tell us that we cannot expect to achieve and sustain our NTD control and elimination goals unless we also tackle the underlying causes — namely the provision of safe water, sanitation and hygiene facilities (WASH) and  health care access — and do so in a joined-up way.

One example where integration is yielding results is in Nigeria. As a country with one of the heaviest burdens of NTDs globally, and one which has successfully launched its “NTD masterplan” (a multi-year national plan to control and eliminate several NTDs under the London Declaration), it offers a wealth of valuable insights. The WHA side event in May, which was hosted by the Nigerian government and supported by the UK Coalition against NTDs, south-south sharing of learning was central to the discussion.

Nigeria’s Minister of Health, Professor Onyebuchi Chukwa, and the Director of Public Health, Dr. Bridget Okoeguale, highlighted what they see as the foundation of success in combating these diseases: building stronger health systems, equipped to deliver and sustain effective control programmes alongside interventions grounded in a public health approach. To this end, Dr. Okoeguale highlighted that Nigeria is working to embed NTD care within primary health care structures to bring together preventive and curative care. She called on the NTD and WASH sectors to work together across departments responsible for Environment, Water, Education, Housing and Media.

This is certainly an approach supported through the Nigerian NTD elimination programme led by Sightsavers, where both local government and global donors such as the UK government aid agency, DFID, have committed funds to control several NTDs. The success of this programme rides on all parties collaborating under a united goal and sharing knowledge and resources. The programme is designed to support the strengthening of the Nigerian health system alongside delivering targeted interventions to eliminate NTDs.

UKCNTD WHA attendees (3)

Creidt: Yael Vellemen, Wateraid

During the WHA event, this approach was supported by both the World Health Organization and international donors, including representatives from DFID and USAID, who emphasised the investments being made into WASH programmes in NTD endemic countries. Dr. Wendy Harrison, Chair of the UK Coalition against NTDs reiterated the importance of cross-sectoral collaboration to meet the WHO 2020 roadmap goals and the need to embed and standardise monitoring of the impact of NTD programmes on health systems.

All parties at the event were in clear agreement that cross-sectoral integration is vital and that without access to safe effective WASH and health services, NTD elimination will not be possible. However, whether or not this happens will depend on the level of political will, leadership and resources dedicated to achieving our goals in a sustainable way. As the recent announcement of £39m by the British Government to help support the elimination of trachoma in highly endemic countries in sub-Saharan Africa reminds us, NTDs have never been as well supported or as prominent on the global health agenda. However there still remains a global $200 million per year funding gap that needs to be addressed if we are to meet the ambitious goals of control and elimination as laid out in the 2012 London Declaration.

We need to make sure that we leverage these global commitments and this momentum to achieve our goals in a way that builds systems to provide safe and effective WASH and health services, and delivers on our commitment to control and eliminate these diseases in a sustainable way.

Download “The Power of Integration: A report from the WHA 2014”.

The UK Coalition against Neglected Tropical Diseases is a collaborative effort by UK organisation that are actively engaged in NTD research and implementation and in advocating for effective and sustainable NTD control programmes.

Find out more about them at www.ntd-coalition.org and follow them on Twitter @UK_NTD. This post also appears on the UK Coalition against NTDs blog.

Abuja Media Roundtable Highlights Necessity for Collaboration on Health

 

As African Ministers of Economy and Finance gathered at the Seventh Annual Joint African Union (AU)-United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) Conference in Abuja, Nigeria, the Global Network joined a lively conversation with GAVI, Roll Back Malaria (RBM) Partnership, and about 40 Nigerian reporters on how health, human capital and social development partnerships will catalyze widespread economic growth.

The AU-UNECA meetings, themed, “Industrialization for inclusive and transformative development in Africa,” could not have provided a more perfect backdrop to discuss health issues. Countries’ investments for building and sustaining strong, competitive economies need to include health services. Vibrant labor markets require a productive workforce, which is contingent on people’s health status.

Recognizing the role of health in economic growth and poverty alleviation, African leaders pledged to allocate 15 percent of their budgets to health through the Abuja Declaration. Yet 13 years post-Declaration, and the majority of African nations have not yet followed through.

With these issues at the forefront, Rotimi Sankore, coordinator of the Nigerian-based organization Afri-Dev, opened the media roundtable. He asked the journalists, “What are the success stories? What are the challenges we are facing?” He asked the development partners, “What are you contributing human capital development, health and socio-economic development? What are the gaps?”

Dr. Thomas Teuscher, deputy executive director, Roll Back Malaria (RBM) Partnership

Dr. Thomas Teuscher, deputy executive director, Roll Back Malaria (RBM) Partnership

Dr. Mercy Ahun, GAVI’s special-representative to GAVI-eligible countries, explained her organization’s role in saving lives through vaccines. GAVI spends about 64 percent of its commitments in Africa, which so far has amounted to more than five billion dollars. “Everyone in Africa knows the impact of measles on children and families. … We know that prevention is better.”

Journalists can spark a “dialogue to get a better vision for how the limited amount of development investment is channeled,” said Dr. Thomas Teuscher, deputy executive director of RBM. He also stressed why health is a priority. “You need to be in good shape, be healthy and survive to go to work every day. This is clearly a national investment. [We] need investments of governments to serve their people. This cannot just be aid finance,” he said.

Wangechi Thuo, senior program officer for Africa, Global Network

Wangechi Thuo, senior program officer for Africa, Global Network

Global Network’s Senior Program Officer for Africa, Wangechi Thuo, captivated the audience about neglected tropical diseases (NTDs). After explaining how NTDs are underlying drivers of poverty, Wangechi delivered a call to action: “African governments need to increase their domestic investments in health, and be innovative in how we use resources and see where we can have cost-savings. NTDs serve as a vehicle for how you can multi-sectoral investments, and how you can pull forth greater investments in human capital and for other sectors.”

Then, journalists from Nigeria and abroad shared their insights on the state of health reporting, how they can do their part in advancing the health MDGs and post-2015 development agenda discussions, and what’s needed for fruitful partnerships between the media and development organizations.

Ms. Moji Makanjuola, head of Health Desk at Nigerian Television Authority.

Ms. Moji Makanjuola, head of Health Desk at Nigerian Television Authority

Making an impassioned plea for increased health reporting to hold leaders accountable, Moji Makanjuola, head of the health desk at Nigerian Television Authority, said, “We have refused to see health as an investment … that can propel the development initiatives of the continent forward…We cannot do that. Until we move the agenda to make it a political agenda, we must ask questions.”

From AllAfrica.com, CEO and Cofounder Reed Kramer explained that they’re “trying to find new ways to work with media colleagues across the continent to make reporting possible and more effective.” Another media representative present, Habiba Bello-Giwa from Nigeria’s Premium Times, later shared her collaboration with AllAfrica.com to expand her paper’s investigative journalism section.

Mr. Martins Oloja, editor, Nigeria's Guardian Newspape

Mr. Martins Oloja, editor, Nigeria’s Guardian Newspaper

Echoing Ms. Makanjuola’s earlier sentiments, Martins Oloja, editor of Nigeria’s The Guardian stated, “Poverty in reporting what African leaders all over the place are not doing. We need to hold them to account. Why are they not funding health matter adequately? Where is the medium? The medium is the message.”

Ultimately, it is through a comprehensive approach to health that African nations can reduce the burden of disease and other pervasive public health threats – and lift millions of people out of poverty. Through a unified push, we can provide comprehensive health access and create more equitable, inclusive growth for all Africans. It is our hope that we will continue to explore ways to work together.

Thanks to all the partners at the media roundtable for a great discussion!

Towards a Less Wormy World

 

By Nina Cromeyer Dieke*

Nigeria is – by far – Africa’s most populous nation. It recently came to light that it is the continent’s biggest economy. It also has the highest burden of NTDs in all of Africa. Therefore, when an opportunity arose in late 2013 to run our GIS training course in Abuja, we were very excited and quickly set about preparing the materials.

Nina presenting at GAHI's Modern Tools for NTD Control Programmes training

GAHI’s Jenny Smith presents on modern tools for NTD control programmes.

Part of my job as communications manager for the Global Atlas of Helminth Infections (GAHI) team at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) is the coordination of our five-day course on Modern Tools for NTD Control Programmes. The course is part of GAHI’s capacity building efforts and is aimed at data and programme managers who wish to use geographic information systems (GIS) and mapping to better target their deworming and NTD control plans. The course first took place in Nairobi in May 2013, with 18 participants from 7 African countries. One of the participants was Dr. Obiageli Nebe, the Nigerian Ministry of Health’s National Coordinator for STH and schistosomiasis. We were very pleased to hear, just a few months later, that Dr. Nebe successfully advocated for the course to run in Abuja, a feat that materialised in January 2014 with 21 participants from Nigeria’s FMOH and NGO’s.

Group photo

The group of participants from GAHI’s five-day course on Modern Tools for NTD Control Programmes

After a great visit to Nigeria, the year continued to bode well for GAHI with the re-launch of our website. Still on www.thiswormyworld.org, we now have a brand new design that makes searching for maps, data and our training resources much easier, including the interactive NTD Mapping Tool. We also have a new research section with information about our ongoing work, in addition to mapping. We’re very excited about our new look!

One of the great new additions to the website is maps (and their data) showing water supply and sanitation (WSS) coverage in Sub-Saharan Africa. These are the result of a recent paper in PLOS Medicine, led by GAHI’s Rachel Pullan with Matt Freeman at Emory University, Pete Gething at Oxford, and GAHI’s Simon Brooker. The study found stark in-country inequalities in access to water and sanitation, as well as in practicing open defecation. Demonstrated inequalities for some example countries include a 33.0% to 99.5% range in district-level coverage of improved drinking water in Benin, and a 13.8% to 93.6% range in open defecation in Burkina Faso. We recognise the important links between good WSS access and NTD control, and this type of multidisciplinary research to understand the context of control is increasingly a part of our work.

homepage

It’s been a busy year for us so far, but we’re not alone. I’m thrilled by the ever growing momentum around NTD control and elimination, most recently demonstrated at the Uniting to Combat NTDs meeting in Paris. New funding commitments and increasing multi-sector partnerships are getting us closer to 2020 goals, in countries large and small.

Follow GAHI on Twitter, @ThisWormyWorld

*Nina Cromeyer Dieke is the communications manager at Global Atlas of Helminth Infections

NTD Workshop in Nigeria Equips States with Necessary Skills and Resources to Succeed

 

Together with international partners and NGOs, the government of Nigeria has the potential to drastically expand and strengthen their neglected tropical disease (NTD) program to treat and protect its population from the devastating impact of NTDs. Nigeria bears the largest NTD burden within sub-Saharan Africa, but the country’s national plan to tackle NTDs has already laid the groundwork for controlling and eliminating these diseases by 2020. However, additional training, especially at the state level, will help Nigeria scale up and maintain a sustainable NTD program that could lead to the control and elimination of NTDs by 2020.

Nigeria’s geography poses a unique challenge in the fight against NTDs. For example, each Nigerian state possesses its own quasi-autonomous state ministry of health — each with its own integrated NTD program. With this challenge in mind, The World Health Organization (WHO) and partners developed a training program for the first week in February for the 36 Nigerian states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) to provide representatives with the tools and technical skills needed to establish, scale up and sustain integrated NTD programs within their respective states. The training was supported by The Envision project, The United project, and was attended by state representatives, including federal ministers of health, members of federal NTD teams and zonal coordinators and NGO partners.

Highlights from the 5-day training were shared through Twitter, thanks to @NTDNigeria and RTIinterntional:

 

Throughout the training, facilitators from Nigeria and the U.S. led sessions on scaling up integrated MDA programs, monitoring and evaluation, data management and advocacy. The facilitators also went over some basic but essential tasks – including filling out the appropriate forms to apply for NTD medications.

During her session, Global Network senior program officer Wangechi Thuo stressed the importance of effective advocacy in creating sustainable NTD programs. She led participants through exercises, demonstrating how to effectively raise awareness about NTDs among key policy influencers with the goal of garnering sustained ownership, leadership, and commitment from governments and their partners for NTD programs

 

The training also brought together key government partners including Nigeria’s National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) and the National Primary Health Care Development Agency. Together, partners discussed ways to better and more effectively distribute NTD medicine to populations in need. While Nigeria has the medicine necessary to treat its population, delivering the medicine to more than a hundred million Nigerians is a difficult task.

As the globe moves towards NTD elimination by 2020, Nigeria must remain a top priority given its large NTD burden. Thanks to this month’s NTD workshop, Nigeria’s government expects to see more and more people treated for NTDs, and more precise monitoring and evaluation of drug delivery in the coming year. Through continued government and partner support, Nigeria can see the end of NTDs. In the words of Dr. Bridget Okuaguale, Director of Public Health (DPH) at the Federal Ministry of Health, “We must work as a team, or we cannot go anywhere.”