Ethiopia carries one of the highest burdens of NTDs in Africa. With increasing support from donors like USAID, Ethiopia’s Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH) aims to implement WHO-recommended mass drug administration for all people living in districts endemic for onchocerciasis, lymphatic filariasis, schistosomiasis, and soil-transmitted helminths, as well as the full SAFE strategy which includes surgery, antibiotics, face washing and environmental improvements for all trachoma endemic districts by 2015 in order to accomplish the goals set forth in the London Declaration.
Building capacity: a first step
Due to the large Ethiopian population and its decentralized structure, regional capacity in NTD control will be an important factor in ensuring success of the national program scale-up. As a result, the FMOH reached out to USAID and the ENVISION project to help support implementation of WHO’s NTD Integrated Program Manager’s Training Course.
Building off the recent success of the course roll-out in Nigeria, RTI organized a five-day training in Adama, Ethiopia with participants from each of Ethiopia’s 9 Regional Health Bureaus, as well as the Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH), Ethiopian Public Health Institute, and local and international NGOs.
The training provided an introduction to integrated NTD programming methods and approaches and while offering information on the latest tools recommended for integrated NTD programming like the TIPAC and integrated NTD database. The course materials were customized to the Ethiopian context. Training modules were facilitated by NTD experts working in Ethiopia as well as international experts from WHO and development organizations.
NTD program implementation is more advanced in some areas of Ethiopia than others. As a result, exchange among participants was especially important and beneficial. During the week-long course, participants from lesser-experienced regions were teamed with more experienced regions as well as NGDO partners and Ethiopian academic institutions. This fostered an environment of collaboration and mentorship.
“The training was very important to me because Beneshangul-Gumuz is an emerging region new to NTDs. This training has helped us to understand how to manage NTDs, conduct trainings, have good communication with stakeholders, and how to carry out program planning. It has provided us with a huge amount of information which is of great importance to our region.” Asfaw Kejelaoucha, Regional NTD Officer for Beneshangul-Gumuz Region.
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.