New e-Toolkit supports greater access to information and coordination within Nigeria's Malaria Elimination Program
Nigeria has the largest population in Africa, now exceeding 200 million, and is home to 25% of the world’s malaria burden. Over the years, donors and implementing partners working with the National Malaria Elimination Program (NMEP) in Nigeria have had difficulty accessing strategic documents required to effectively implement malaria programs. Even though the NMEP, as the apex coordinating body for Nigeria’s malaria control efforts, churns out multiple documents covering key thematic areas like program management, case management, supply chains, and others, the challenge is ensuring the documents are well organized, fully up to date, and complete.
Key departments at the NMEP also face the challenge of sharing information and coordinating efforts, especially when performing statutory responsibilities such as developing guidelines, standard operating procedures, and training manuals for malaria control. “Information wasn’t easily accessible because it was not properly organized in a way that is user friendly,” says Abel Ajegbe, IT Specialist at the NMEP. “Because of this, people did not know where to get information.”
The US President’s Malaria Initiatives for States (PMI-S) Project identified the need and planned an intervention to overcome this challenge. Contributing to the NMEP’s vision of a malaria-free Nigeria, PMI-S, a five-year USAID flagship malaria project managed by MSH, works with the government to improve health systems for malaria control and collaborate with the NMEP to improve its program management.
In 2019, the project began working with the NMEP to set up a platform where all strategic documents can be easily housed and accessed by malaria program implementers and all interested stakeholders - from district health center directors to NGO partners. The result was an electronic toolkit, which can be accessed directly through the navigation bar on the NMEP website. The e-Toolkit is divided into six thematic areas: surveillance and M&E; program management; procurement and supply chain management; vector control; case management; and advocacy, communication, and social mobilization. Each thematic area contains the document name, description, a unique reference number, and type, as well as the last revision date.
The e-Toolkit now serves as an easily accessible platform for planning, learning, and patient care. It also contains up-to-date policies, guidelines, standard operating procedures, and job aids for managers and technical personnel within national and state malaria programs, as well as partners, health providers, students, government officials, and donors.
According to Ajegbe, the toolkit was received with enthusiasm by the NMEP, which has expressed interest in bringing state-level stakeholders on board to play an active role in shaping the platform. The introduction of the e-Toolkit has also motivated the NMEP to consider revamping its website: As Ajegbe puts it: “You can’t keep new wine in an old bottle.”
While the toolkit is still at its early stages, there are ongoing efforts to make sure that departments support its sustainability by regularly updating information on the platform. Representatives who sit on the committee overseeing the implementation of the toolkit are also encouraged to support their teams to key into the system as contributors.
“We have started something very important: an information repository for the NMEP," says Ajegbe. “We must do everything to sustain it.”