This post originally appeared on PMI Impact Malaria’s blog.
by Kathryn Malhotra and Silue Mamadou, PMI Impact Malaria Technical Advisors
Countries in West and Central Africa are increasingly decentralizing resources and decision-making for health as part of a strategy to improve health system quality and efficiency. In Cote d’Ivoire, decentralization is part of the Ministry of Health’s (MoH) new strategic approach and is reflected in the country’s malaria planning and programming. One recent example is the National Malaria Control Program’s (NMCP) launch of a program that embeds malaria technical advisors within regional MoH offices. A Regional Technical Advisor (TA) is based in one regional office and responsible for two regions, so each TA travels frequently to work on malaria activities around both regions.
To help ensure a strong start, a group of stakeholders held a three-day workshop at the end of November 2018 for the launch of the new Regional TA program. Participants included the NMCP, the National Maternal and Child Health Program (PNSME), the Division on Community Health (DSC), the U.S. President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI) country office in Cote d’Ivoire, PMI Impact Malaria, other PMI implementing partners—including Breakthrough Action, Human Resources for Health 2030 (HRH2030), Integrated Health Supply Chain-Technical Assistance (IHSC-TA), and MEASURE Evaluation—UNICEF, Save the Children, and the ten new TAs.
Government stakeholders and PMI partners presented different sessions to the TAs, which covered the objectives of the TA role and key malaria technical areas, including diagnosis and treatment, malaria in pregnancy, severe malaria, stock management, and data quality. The TAs (pictured below) were given their site placements at the end of the workshop and have been in their assigned regions since then.
One of the new TAs, Dr. Hans Bahibo, explained that he is enthusiastic about his new role because he thinks the regional model will address many of the operational challenges that he experienced while working as a monitoring and evaluation specialist with the NMCP. According to Dr. Bahibo, “these difficulties limit the ability of the NMCP to achieve the objectives set in its strategic plan for the fight against malaria.” He feels strongly that the role of TAs in providing technical and operational support will be very useful for the NMCP and “there is no doubt that it will allow for improvement of national malaria control indicators.”
TAs were first tasked with supporting the rollout of a training for community health workers and a training of trainers, both centered on a new integrated community case management (iCCM) package. The daily work and activities of the TAs varies based on the needs of the regions and districts they cover, but they each play an important role in working to ensure that malaria services are accessible and high quality. The TAs receive ongoing coaching and mentoring from the NMCP and PMI Impact Malaria and participate in quarterly meetings to discuss activity updates and new initiatives for the TAs to work on.
Cote d’Ivoire’s Regional TA program is an important resource to strengthen capacity and coordination at the regional level and beyond, both across the country and in the PMI intervention districts. The lessons learned from this program will be useful from region-to-region and will inform the programming and activities of other national health systems. Stay tuned as we learn more!
Photography credits from top to bottom: Benjamin Schilling for the first photo; PMI Impact Malaria Cote d’Ivoire Office for the second photo.