From February 3-8, Nigeria held the first WHO Integrated NTD Program Managers’ Training. Situated in Abuja, the course drew NTD program managers from each of Nigeria’s 36 states and Federal Capital Territory (FCT) as well as zonal coordinators, with over 120 participants in total. The Federal Ministry of Health NTD Coordinator and program managers were also in attendance throughout the training as well as NGDO representation from RTI International, Sightsavers and Mitosath.
The course was opened by Nigeria’s Director of Public Health, Hon. Bridget Okuaguale, who pledged her continuing dedication towards elimination and control of NTDs. “If we do not work as a team, we will go nowhere” said Dr. Okoeguale. The Government of Nigeria and FMOH showed strong support for the rollout of the course, with a significant focus on strengthening the capacity of Nigeria’s 36 states and improving coordination of efforts throughout the country.
As a federated country, each of Nigeria’s 36 states possess their own State Ministry of Health and NTD program. Communication and collaboration between states has been limited in the past, however the FMOH has been working with the ENVISION and UNITED projects in leading efforts to provide the tools and technical skills necessary for building and sustaining integrated NTD programming in each of Nigeria’s states. The WHO Integrated NTD Program Managers’ Training was one such activity, however, recent trainings have also been carried out for the development of an integrated NTD database for Nigeria and for the use of the Tool for Integrated Planning and Costing (TIPAC) for program planning.
The course was facilitated by a group of both Nigerian NTD leaders and international experts, who gathered before the training to tailor the materials to the Nigerian context. The training received tremendous positive feedback both from the participants and the facilitators. “The training is very important to programme managers, helping managers understand the integration process effectively and how people can program in a coordinated manner with the resources they have”, said one participant.
The WHO Integrated NTD Program Managers’ Training features critical components of integrated NTD strategies, including implementation techniques, program management principles, drug and severe adverse event management, measurement and evaluation, planning and costing analysis, and advocacy strategies to garner long-term support. The course materials were developed by WHO in partnership with the U.S. Agency for International Development, RTI International, Helen Keller International, International Trachoma Initiative, Centers for Disease Control, Task Force for Global Health and many others.
Through the ENVISION project, RTI plans to support the next roll out of the WHO NTD Program Managers Training in Ethiopia later this year.