This year the eHA Sierra Leone team joined the national polio campaign as it kicked off throughout Freetown. The team visited the Murray Town community where the local Public Health Unit (PHU) was prepared to complete an extensive immunization hoping to reach all community children under the age of five.
This meant not only making home visits to families with trained nurse practitioners to provide medicine and document the process, but also touring schools as a strategic measure to reach as many children as possible. Our team witnessed health workers in communicate, organize, deliver and record their immunization activities within their communities using traditional pen and paper.
eHA already has a long and successful track record digitizing the aspects of Nigeria’s polio emergency response activities. Now, after the Sierra Leone event, the knowledge and exposure to these and similar types of immunization campaigns is spreading across the organization. As eHA continues to support routine immunization and rapid, real-time disease surveillance, our teams across West Africa will seek to increase their skills and expertise to design effective and user-friendly tools which mirror and simplify the work for health care workers. These efforts will contribute directly to a community’s ability to track its health status and make informed decisions to improve its overall wellbeing.
eHealth Africa’s (eHA) Executive Director and Co-Founder Adam Thompson participated in the second edition of the Future of Health Conference themed “Health meets Tech” organized by Nigeria Health Watch, which took place on September 22, 2016, in Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.
The conference brought together stakeholders from both health and technology spheres to collaboratively discuss on ways to improve the health sector in Nigeria through the use of technology. The discussions were categorized into three sessions: Leaders, Game Changers, and Disrupters.
‘The Leaders’ session featured decision makers from the public and private sectors who highlighted the ideas and inspired thinking of a unique generation of bright minds and leaders in the health sector. The second session tagged ‘The Game Changers’ featured a unique set of health entrepreneurs who have made significant transformative contributions to the sector using technology.
The final session tagged ‘The Disrupters’ featured the pace-setters who already have ignited the change discussed in the health sector by using technology to overcome tough challenges and inspire action. eHA was one of the six ‘disrupters’ identified to participate in this session.
In his presentation titled ‘The Use of Technology to Improve Efficiency of Healthcare Delivery in Some of the Toughest Areas in Nigeria’, Adam gave an overview of the various projects implemented by eHA, with emphases on Disease Surveillance and Emergency Preparedness & Response. His talk highlighted the changes enabled by the Polio Emergency Operation Centers in Nigeria, and described the successes based on the synchronization of infrastructure, partnerships, and data, which together can be leveraged to drive more informed action and achieve greater impact.
Our Nigeria office in Kano State recently hosted a team of international delegates who were in Kano State for a three-day international workshop titled "Future Resilient Farming Systems for the Semi-Arid West and Central Africa." The workshop was organized by the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT). ICRISAT facilitated the workshop in collaboration with eHealth Africa (eHA), the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), and Bayero University Kano State.
The visiting group of delegates was made up of representatives from nine countries, led by ICRISAT Nigeria’s Country Representative Dr. Ajeigbe Hakeem.
Also present at the event:
Professor Anthony Whitbread, Research Program Director of Innovation Systems for Drylands
From India: Dr. Ramadjita Tabo, Regional Director for West and Central Africa
From Zimbabwe: ICRISAT’s Dr. Sabine Homann-Kee Tui, Social Scientist for Crop-Livestock Systems
eHealth Africa’s Associate Director of Programs Anu Parvatiyar and others from the eHA team welcomed the international delegates. Parvatiyar gave a presentation that provided the visitors with an overview of eHA, followed by a presentation on Nutrition and Food Security given by eHA’s Program Manager Dr. Sarma Mallubhotla. After presentations and discussions, the visitors also had the opportunity to tour eHA’s main campus and explore projects currently in the works.
Dr. Tabo said that given the impact achieved by eHealth Africa on healthcare in Nigeria, he is hoping that both organizations will continue to explore areas of collaboration to dramatically increase what is accomplished going forward.
eHealth Africa (eHA) participated in the Conference on Health and Humanitarian Logistics, held from August 29th to August 31st in Atlanta, Georgia. The conference was organized by the Georgia Tech Center for Health and Humanitarian Systems.
The aim of the conference was to provide a forum for the discussion of challenges and solutions in disaster preparedness and response, long-term development and humanitarian aid, and global health delivery. The conference was focused on transforming global health and humanitarian systems, and included plenary panels, interactive workshops and poster sessions.
MOVE and Vaccine Direct Delivery, logistics management information tools used to support health commodity supply chains in vulnerable communities in Nigeria, were featured in a poster booth and presented during the Technology Exhibit by Adam Thompson, Executive Director of eHA.
In 2014, eHealth Africa was approached by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to assist in the implementation of the first ever clinical trial in Sierra Leone. The clinical trial was to test a vaccine against the Ebola Virus Disease. At the time Sierra Leone was facing a deadly Ebola outbreak that gripped the nation. Combined with cases in neighboring Liberia and Guinea, the epidemic had already become the worst ever recorded in history. The World Health Organization (WHO) had declared an international public health emergency, and Sierra Leone declared a national state of emergency. In a health care system already lacking adequate staffing, health care workers and frontline workers were at extreme risk for contracting the disease.
In partnership with the CDC, the Sierra Leone Ministry of Health and Sanitation (MOHS) and clinical leadership from the College of Medicine and Allied Health Sciences (COMAHS), eHealth Africa led the operations for the Sierra Leone Trial to Introduce a Vaccine against Ebola (STRIVE).
In the end, STRIVE enrolled and vaccinated over 8,000 health care and front line workers. 350+ Sierra Leonean clinicians were trained to enroll, vaccinate, and provide surveillance, also building a functioning cold chain to support -80 degree centigrade temperatures to keep the vaccine viable.
Here are some of the innovations eHealth Africa facilitated for the SRIVE program.
- A mobile electronic participant registration system
- A toll free line hosted by a 24-hour call center for participants enrolled in the trial
- Operations and logistics support to the seven enrollment and vaccination sites
- Renovation of the enrollment and vaccination sites prior to opening
- Contract creation with hospitals around the country to provide free medical care to 8000+ enrolled participants for the duration of the trial
A unique strength of eHealth Africa (eHA) is our ability to maintain innovation during times of crisis, using these innovations to assist response efforts. Software developments that were used for the vaccine trial were also adapted for the larger Ebola response in Sierra Leone. In the post-Ebola outbreak phase, eHA is looking to apply these innovations to the national recovery plan. This will be done by building capacity in mortality and disease surveillance, patient medical records in hospitals, using biometrics to monitor child immunization campaigns, and maintaining extreme temperatures in cold chains to keep life saving vaccines.
A major benefit of STRIVE is providing a wealth of information on the safety profile of an Ebola Vaccine. Additionally, 8000+ health care workers were able to access the vaccine during an Ebola outbreak. These are major steps towards licensure and preventing devastating Ebola outbreaks in the future.
For eHealth Africa, it was highly valuable to participate as a major partner in the implementation of STRIVE. Our participation not only built up our own capacity as an organization, but allowed us to develop innovative tools that are now being used in the post-Ebola response, building back health systems that are now stronger and more accessible to Sierra Leoneans.
In response to the two wild poliovirus cases detected in Borno State in August 2016, the first outbreak response campaign is set to run from August 27-30 in five Northern states.
eHealth Africa will be providing support for the campaign by supplying over 8000 GPS-enabled mobile devices to field vaccination teams to enable the collection of geo-coordinate information on settlements reached during their house-to-house visits. To provide technical field support, eHA has deployed over 70 field staff to 37 Local Government Areas (LGAs) across the five Northern states.
Data collected by the vaccination teams will be uploaded onto a local server to enable key health administrators and partners, at the LGA and state level, to visualize the data collected from the daily field activities on the Vaccination Tracking System (VTS) dashboard. From the results, polio program stakeholders will be able to see the percentage of geo-coverage achieved and most importantly, the number of missed settlements that will require follow-up visits. This information will help stakeholders make timely and better-informed decisions to ensure all eligible children in the regions are immunized with the Oral Polio Vaccine (OPV).
In order to facilitate a productive exchange among the global health community in Berlin, on June 30, 2016, eHealth Africa hosted a discussion event dedicated to Global Health Security – Focus Africa. he event aimed to address questions on possible pandemic outbreaks in Africa and Europe, methods of containment, and learnings from previous pandemics.
See pictures from the event below, and click here to read the full event report from Berlin.
On Friday the 12th of July, eHealth Africa (eHA) hosted and trained a six person team from the Federal Ministry of Health’s Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTD) department on application of open source Geographic Information Systems (GIS) for public health interventions.
The Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) programme of the Federal Ministry of Health is focused on addressing neglected diseases consisting of Lymphatic Filariasis, Onchocerciasis, Schistosomiasis, leprosy, guinea worms, and many others. Their goal is to reduce morbidity, disability, and mortality caused by these diseases through the control and eradication of NTDs using cost effective approaches. The objective of the NTD team is to enhance monitoring and evaluation, surveillance and operations research in order to strengthen government ownership, advocacy, coordination and partnerships as well.
To foster the enhancement of monitoring, evaluation and surveillance, the Ministry of Health’s NTD department received training from eHA department staff on basic guidelines regarding the use of QGIS, a free and open source Geographic Information System software.
The QGIS training was a one day training which covered the introduction of geospatial technologies, applications for public health, installation of QGIS, interface and plugins, working with datasets, data manipulation and analysis, map creation and embellishment, and a practical session on map design and production.
The training was led by eHA’s GIS Architect and Department Lead Samuel Aiyeoribe, along with Ayodele Adeyemo, the Assistant Geospatial Analyst. These facilitators commenced the training following an overview of our organization presented by Health Delivery Systems Program Manager Wynfred Russell. The director of the Ministry of Health Director Mrs. Ifeoma Anagbagu also gave an overview about their organization, and an introduction to NTDs. Anagbagu shared how impressed she was by what was learned and the skills acquired from the training.
“I coordinated the Guinea Worm eradication program in 2007, and at that time we used HealthMapper for mapping and analysis of the the data. But from what I learned today, this goes beyond the Guinea Worm eradication program. We are looking forward to doing so much with the knowledge received here.” - Ifeoma Anagbagu, Ministry of Health Director
The NTD team as a whole was excited and satisfied with the training, and we were honored to hand them certificates for completing the training successfully.
eHealth Africa’s CTO Didi Hoffmann presented to an interested audience of approximately 200 people how eHA is using tech for good in Africa. Other special guests included the Jourvie team, who created an app to fight eating disorders. An organization called Changers offered solutions for carbon print reduction to companies. The EIDU app was demonstrated, a self-teaching app for pre-school children in developing countries. The HiMate app was present as well, an app that offers vouchers to refugees.
These tech demonstrations were followed by two hours of networking and responding to questions at dedicated stands. At the eHA stand, Didi Hoffmann, Francesco Occhipinti and Natalya Nepomnyashcha talked with attendees about eHA's work and provided live demos of the mobile data collection application HAT. Members of the eHA team interacted and demonstrated this app with multiple investors, social entrepreneurs and public health professionals.
Our thanks goes out to The Changer and the other organizers and sponsors! We look forward to seeing how the new partnerships and relationships benefit health tech and the health of communities worldwide.
During the March round of National Immunization Plus Days (NIPD), eHealth Africa (eHA) provided vaccinator tracking support to ten southern states in Nigeria: Cross River, Bayelsa, Edo, Ondo, Oyo, Osun, Ogun, Lagos, Ekiti, and Delta. In May, eHA took part in the state-level IPD in 24 Local Government Areas (LGAs) in three of Nigeria’s northern states (Bauchi, Katsina, Kano).
The May IPD campaign took place from May 14-17. Our field officers were on the ground in 24 LGAs providing technical support for the vaccinator tracking activity. Every IPD campaign is different and, as usual, the May campaign presented a variety of new experiences and challenges for our vaccinator tracking teams.
One of the issues faced was the distance from the campaign takeoff point office to the ward settlements where the vaccination teams traveled for daily house-to-house visits. Many wards were 4-5 hours away from the base office in the respective LGAs. As a result, some teams could not return their phone trackers on a daily basis as intended. This caused a delay in the uploading of geographic “tracks” from the the team’s phones onto our server. Consequently, daily field results (via dashboard visualization) were only able to be reviewed at the end of the campaign by stakeholders, as opposed to on a daily basis at campaign evening review meetings. This was especially the case for several LGAs in Bauchi and Yobe state.
Poor network issues also made it difficult for our staff to upload data in a timely manner to the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) dashboard in the states they were based. This issue was mainly experienced in Yobe state areas including Fika, Jakusko, and Machina LGAs. Another key issue was security problems in several locations due to insurgency threats and political unrest, notably in Yobe state.
After encountering and overcoming the above-mentioned challenges, we are glad to report that our eHA field officers successfully conducted vaccinator tracking activities for the May IPD campaign. We were able to get valid recordings of the geographic coverage achieved by the vaccination teams for each LGA supported. We look forward to the upcoming campaign in October, and remain committed to aiding the nation in achieving its goal of receiving the certification of eradication of polio from WHO in 2017.
A recent report from UNICEF shows that Nigeria as a country loses 145 women and 2,300 children between the ages of 0-5 years every day. While there are a variety of causes such as disease, one of the largest culprits in this tragedy is malnutrition. In Nigeria, malnutrition accounts for over 50% of morbidity and mortality in a large proportion of children between the ages of 0-5.
In view of this, eHealth Africa (eHA) is developing a new partnership with HarvestPlus to address malnutrition in Northern Nigeria through production and consumption of biofortified foods. eHealth Africa’s Nutrition and Food Security Program Manager Dr. Sarma Mallubhotla hosted representatives of HarvestPlus:Country Director Paul Ilona and Communications Manager Ifeoma Okonkwo. The representatives met with eHA Executive Director Adam Thompson, Deputy Country Director Atef Fawaz, and various program managers. They also met with Monitoring, Evaluation and Research Coordinators, as well as the Global Health Informatics team leads.
To start the brainstorming session, representatives from both eHA and HarvestPlus provided overviews of their organizations. After these introductions, discussions were held on how the proposed partnership could help introduce more nutritious Provitamin A rich Maize and Cassava, Iron rich Sorghum, and Zinc Rice to farmers in Northern Nigeria. The discussion also explored possible ways to create awareness of the nutritious value of the crops and encourage their uptake across the value chain. All of these discussions are focused on one goal: improving the diet of the most vulnerable population in Nigeria.
HarvestPlus leads a global effort to improve nutrition and public health by developing and disseminating staple food crops that are rich in vitamins and minerals. HarvestPlus works with public and private sector partners in more than 40 countries and is part of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), and the Research Program on Agriculture for Nutrition and Health (A4NH), which helps realize the potential of agricultural development to deliver gender equitable health and nutritional benefits to the poor.
As a result of this joint brainstorming session, eHA and HarvestPlus are looking forward to developing a collaborative agreement and detailed work plan to build a productive partnership that will contribute to the fight against malnutrition in Nigeria.
eHealth Africa (eHA) was happy to host the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) at our Kano Headquarters from May 18-20 for our first Proactive Assurance Review.
The Assurance Review consisted of an assessment of eHA's financial, programmatic, and organizational management practices. The purpose of the assessment was to allow BMGF to better understand eHA programmatic and operational capabilities. The process provides assurance to BMGF leadership that eHA is utilizing the foundation funds appropriately.
In addition to the Assurance Review, eHA Executive Directors Evelyn Castle and Adam Thompson had the opportunity to discuss eHA's upcoming Capacity Development Grant with BMGF. The Capacity Development Grant will provide eHA with the opportunity to develop a strategic and operational plan as well as develop some additional core organizational capacities.
We are very grateful for the opportunity BMGF is providing to eHA through the Capacity Development Grant, as well as the time they have taken to conduct the Proactive Assurance Review. We know both are going to provide eHA with the ability to grow and be successful.
A team of delegates from the National War College led by Col. Mitchell recently visited the eHealth Africa (eHA) Liberia Office, and were welcomed by eHA Country Director Aurelio Gomes. Other eHA team members present to welcome the delegates were Program Manager Olivia Elee, Project Manager Aji J. Kalau, Operations Manager Sulaiman Sesay, and Health Informatics Manager Nathan Humphreys. The purpose of the visit was for the War College delegates to learn about eHA activities and operations in Liberia at the peak of the 2014 Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) outbreak.
Aji Kalau presented an overview of eHA operations during the fight against the EVD outbreak. Mr Kalau explained that eHA operations began in September 2014 where support teams were set up, and National and County Emergency Operations Centers were established. eHA teams renovated specimen collection and blood testing labs, as well as community care centers.
Mr Kalau went on to describe how eHA developed IT related software to support contact tracing activities, as well as tools for monitoring each patient's status at the Ebola Treatment Units. eHA’s Country Director Aurelio Gomes spoke about the valuable support, partnerships, and funding that allowed eHA to provide the response needed to successfully combat the EVD outbreak in Liberia.
Col. Mitchell and his team responded to the presentation with questions about challenges encountered by eHA during the Ebola response, how these challenges were handled, and how set goals were achieved in spite of the challenges. The delegates also inquired about eHA’s experience working in a multicultural scene with diversity and partnership in the fight against EVD. All their inquiries were answered by the Country Director and eHA team members.
The delegates also talked about their experience in the field using cutting edge ehealth technology, especially in places where there is little to no internet connectivity available.
At the end of the meeting, the National War College team presented Liberia’s Country Director with a commemorative coin and a mug. Col. Mitchell expressed appreciation to eHA for agreeing to meet with his team, and also commended eHA for a job well-done in supporting Liberia’s Ministry of Health during the fight against the 2014 Ebola outbreak.
In late March, the Liberia International Non-Governmental Organization (LINGO) Forum collaborated with the National Civil Society Council to organize a non-governmental organization (NGO) fair in Monrovia, Liberia. This is the second annual event, and both African and International NGOs attended. This year’s theme was “Strengthening Partnerships.”
The LINGO Forum is composed of an international network of NGOs, and was established in Liberia in 1997. LINGO’s mission is to support and improve coordination between members through communication, information sharing, advocacy, liaison activities and capacity building.
Participants of the NGO Fair were welcomed to the event by Andrew Hoskins, the Country Director of Medical Team International. He spoke about the importance of the theme, and encourage continued attendance of future events. Frances Reeves, Chair for Liberia’s National Civil Society Council, encouraged NGOs to remain strong partners to the Government of Liberia.
eHealth Africa demonstrates eHealth Tech
eHealth Africa (eHA) was represented by Country Director Aurelio Gomes at the organizations booth, where he was accompanied by other team members from the office.
Nathan Humphreys, Information Systems (IS) Manager, welcomed partners who visited eHA’s booth and discussed eHA’s work. “Technology used by eHA is very good,” said one of the participants. “If we need data from the field, it takes months to reach the health facilities. But it now take less time, since the application used by eHA can register and send data within minutes,” he said. “I am very impressed, and will have to speak with my office about it.”
The eHA team presented a video which showed how eHA’s data collection systems work, and followed this up with a real time data collection exercise. The team went from booth to booth using a smartphone to register information from other organizations. eHA data collectors Mark Miller and Israel Kollie sampled 118 individuals from 50 organizations. Data was then aggregated and displayed through graphics via a screen at the eHA booth. Age, gender, and the number of participants entered per organization data was collected.
This exercise showed the incredible value and effectiveness of eHA data collection and analysis capabilities. Seventeen international NGOs took part in the exercise and were highly impressed with eHA’s health technology tools and opportunities for more prompt digital delivery of health information. Multiple organizations committed to follow up meetings and potential partnerships, in order to build their electronic capabilities in health delivery.
A Successful Event And An Interview On National TV
The fair was a great success. eHA built many great relationships, and looks forward to potential partnerships. eHA’s Country Director Aurelio Gomes was interviewed by reporter James Kaypo on Liberian television, and said “eHA is committed to being a strong local supporter for the Liberian Government’s health initiatives."
Watch the interview video below or on our YouTube channel.
Nigeria is among the top producers worldwide of staple crops lncluding cassava, yam, and sweetpotato (SP). Unfortunately, it has done little to curb malnutrition and poverty rates in the country. Regardless of its production of the aforementioned crops, Nigeria continues to rank high in the list of countries suffering from food shortages, food insecurity, and poverty.
Nigeria has one of the highest rates of malnutrition in the world with over 300,000 children dying every year from acute malnutrition and over 10 million stunted children. The percent of children in Nigeria who are too thin for their height, or wasted, increased from 11% in 2003 - 18% in 2013. This is significantly higher than the critical threshold for declaring emergencies (15%).
The prevalence of vitamin A deficiency effects 29.5% of the population, with the World Health Organization listing Nigeria as a “category one” country, the worst rating. Conditions are even worse in Northern Nigerian states. In Kano the prevalence of stunted growth for children under five years of age is as high as 48%. High levels of malnutrition lead to increased child mortality, and significantly reduce learning and economic capacity, effectively stagnating economic development.
Enter, the sweetpotato. The sweetpotato is an important root crop in Nigeria. Nigeria is the second largest producer of the crop in Sub Saharan Africa. It has the ability to thrive in marginal soil, while its broad agro-ecological adaptability makes it a food security crop because it can be grown in all of Nigeria’s 36 states. It has a relatively short production cycle (3-4 months) and its roots and vines can be utilized for both human and animal consumption. The orange-fleshed sweetpotato (OFSP) is developed and bio-fortified with vitamin A by the International Potato Center (CIP) and the National Root Crops Research Institute (NRCRI). The best thing about OFSP? It only takes 125 grams of OFSP to supply the recommended daily allowance of vitamin A for children and non-lactating women.
The NRCRI is helping smallholder farmers and targeted beneficiaries, specifically women and children, to fight vitamin A deficiency in Nigeria and Sub Saharan Africa. The CIP is also working in collaboration with eHealth Africa (eHA) to jointly set up the OFSP quality declared planting materials at centrally located multiplication plots/net houses in Bayero University Kano.
Through technology and research, eHA and our partners look forward to seeing how the OFSP combats malnutrition and improves the overall well-being of the Nigerian people.
Since 2012, eHA has worked with the Nigerian Government, the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, and other partners to stop the transmission of the poliovirus and completely eradicate the disease from Nigeria. So far this year, Nigeria has seen zero new cases of paralytic polio, with the last case declared in Nigeria on 24 July 2014. This is significant for Nigeria, which was one of only three countries in 2015 still considered endemic. In Africa as a whole, the entire continent is now non-endemic for poliovirus.
eHA continues to implement polio projects in Nigeria through Polio Immunization Plus Days (IPDs) that focus on Vaccinator Tracking and an eTallySheet pilot. These ensure all children in Nigeria are polio free.
Vaccinator Tracking and the eTallySheet Project
In the Vaccinator Tracking program, eHA equips field vaccinator teams with GPS-enabled phones which are carried throughout the course of IPDs. The phones pick up and track the geographic coordinates of the settlement locations visited. Tracked coordinates are then uploaded by eHA staff into a custom Vaccination Tracking System (VTS) dashboard that state health administrators and partners can access during daily campaign review meetings. These meetings happen at local government and state levels with the purpose of monitoring field vaccinator team movements, discussing the percentage of geo-coverage achieved that day, and ensuring settlements missed by vaccinator teams are targeted during the fifth and final day of the campaign (known as a “mop up” day).
The eTallySheet (eTS) project is funded by the World Health Organization and the Gates Foundation and provides a digital method of gathering immunization information during polio vaccination campaigns. Benefits include the timely digital submission of data and validation of population estimates (specifically for children under five) in areas known for poor enumeration data, high growth populations, and migratory populations. eHA also provides GPS-enabled phones with Open Data Kit collection forms to locally recruited eTS supervisors. These supervisors follow house-to-house vaccinator teams during IPD campaigns, and record important vaccination data per household visited.
March 2016 Immunization Plus Days
The March IPD campaign took place from March 19-22. While eHA staff usually support vaccinator tracking in the Northern Nigeria region, this campaign involved project field officers being deployed to 10 southern states (Cross River, Bayelsa, Edo, Ondo, Oyo, Osun, Ogun, Lagos, Ekiti and Delta). They carried out vaccinator tracking activities and eTS implementation across 60 wards in 26 Local Government Areas (LGAs). A total of 63 eHA field officers were deployed to train, supervise and monitor 279 locally-recruited eTS team supervisors.
The field teams encountered unique experiences and challenges during this IPD round due to their deployment to new states with unfamiliar terrains and infrastructure. Many ward destinations were a long distance from the campaign take-off points (up to five hours travel time), so some teams were unable to get back in time for day-of uploading of collected data. In some LGAs, teams were delayed while resolving issues with local governments, resulting in long days. Awareness of security challenges required practical strategies to keep the campaign moving forward efficiently.
The eHA team saw great enthusiasm and excitement from local health workers regarding vaccinator tracking. Locally-recruited eTS supervisors were fully engaged in the eTS application training and mastered it quickly. In Northern Nigeria, house-to-house vaccinations were the main focus, however in Southern Nigeria, vaccinations were administered at churches, markets, and mosques.
A Successful Campaign
In the end eHA field officers successfully conducted the vaccinator tracking and eTS implementation exercises for the March IPD campaign. We look forward to the next IPD campaign May and remain committed to supporting the Nigerian government to achieve it’s goal of receiving the World Health Organization’s polio-free certification by 2017.
Since answering the call in 2014 from the Kano State Polio Emergency Operations Center (EOC), eHealth Africa (eHA) is a regular partner for driving Health Camp support for Immunization Plus Days (IPDs, which take place in Kano State’s 44 Local Government Areas (LGAs). As part of the National Polio Eradication Program in Nigeria, eHA is supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
What are Health Camps?
Health Camps were created and incorporated into IPDs with the goal of incentivizing community members to receive polio vaccinations for their children, aged 0-5 years. The incentive was created by providing free medicines through health camp boxes, as well as free consultations with a community health worker. If the consultation results in a health need that goes beyond the scope of the health box, the patient is referred to a hospital for needed treatment.
Health Camp workers are a valuable and sustainable resource for Nigeria’s health infrastructure. Having properly trained clinicians and assistant clinicians working in close partnership with local health workers contributes substantially to obtaining more practical, effective, and culturally relevant health care delivery systems at a community level.
Enhanced Health Camp Training
Because of the importance of the health care worker in the efficiency of Health Camps for their local communities, eHA is designing the Enhanced Health Camp Training as an intensive and engaging learning environment to increase the skills and teamwork of health workers. The target audience of the training program will include Local Government Immunization Officers, Essential Drug Officers, and community health workers (clinicians and assistant clinicians).
eHA's community health trainers will facilitate the training, alongside Kano state’s EOC partners. This new enhanced training will be implemented in a series of graduated steps that, when completed will instill confidence and ensure a smooth performance of the health camp workers.
The Training Curriculum
To create the Enhanced Health Camp Training, eHA staff will begin by identifying the health needs, priorities, and resources from the Kano State Primary Health Care Management Board, other partner organizations, and communities themselves. These requirements will then be translated into a curriculum which will be used by trainers, and will create an evaluation process measuring the outcome of the training.
The training program is anticipated to be conducted once, before the March IPD round, to last four days: one day for hand-off training of curriculum for trainers themselves, one day for training at the state level, and a two-day LGA level training during the 2016 IPD months.
An important goal in creating this training is ensuring it covers the comprehensive needs of the EOC. That is why EOC leadership will play a crucial role in spearheading the training and direct it toward solving local needs at the EOCs.
The expectation on data following the training is that the quality of Health Camp data will increase. This increase in quality should go hand in hand with a reduction in human factor data errors, reducing the rate of data cleaning required per round.
Enhanced Training for Better Results
Expanding the knowledge and skills of Health Camp workers to assume more responsible roles in primary health care programs is a productive and rewarding experience for the trainees, for other health professionals, and for community members. Most Health Camp workers have many years of experience tending to family members health problems. They are dedicated to serving their patients and are eager to expand their skills in providing better healthcare to communities. The Enhanced Health Camp Training will build upon the wealth of knowledge and experience staff already possess.
The training will also help facilitate the expanded scope of eHA, and initiate direct contact with Health Camp workers in all LGAs, providing a tool to give regular field feedback. Enhancing the role of these practitioners and promoting closer collaboration between them and medical community offers new hope for improving the overall health of individuals and families through sustainable primary health care programs in Africa.
In London, Adam Thompson showcased eHA’s innovative approach of engaging with the private sector to improve healthcare outcomes in West Africa.
The Executive Director and Co-Founder of eHealth Africa Adam Thompson was recently in London, where he spoke at the Africa Healthcare Summit (17-18 February). He spoke as part of a panel looking at the roles that NGO partnerships play in improving healthcare for people across the African Continent.
Mr Thompson focused on the innovative approach that eHA played in responding to the Ebola response that affected West Africa. He talked about how the eHA team set up the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) in Lagos, Nigeria at the very beginning of the Ebola outbreak, directly procuring services from private sector organisations. These included telecoms companies for services to allow health care workers to track Ebola cases in the field, gas stations for emergency response vehicles, and internet service providers for connectivity to run the EOC.
By adopting a more creative approach and working with the private sector as a partner rather than vendor (which is normally a lengthy formal tendering process), the EOC was set up in one week. This resulted in Ebola being contained within months in Nigeria, and only 20 cases across the country. Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone also adopted this approach, and eHA played a crucial role in the setting and scaling up of both EOCs and call centers within months. This was an extraordinary achievement given the logistical challenges and scale of the problem.
There were a large number of high profile delegates present, including eight Ministers of Health, representatives from the African Development Bank, and numerous Senior Managers from leading private sector health companies across Africa, including Siemens Healthcare. Notable speakers from Nigeria included the Honorable Minister of Health Professor I.F Adewole, who focused on how the President of Nigeria is placing a high priority on health system strengthening given current challenges. The health policy is being reviewed, which includes developing a health ICT framework. We hope that this framework will ensure that millions more from remote areas of the country will now have access to health care.
The second day of the summit focused on discussions around public-private partnerships, improving primary healthcare in Sub-Saharan Africa, and the importance of Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) partnerships. The conference overall was a great opportunity to witness how private sector partnerships play a vital role in tackling priority global health challenges.
The Kano State Primary Health Care Management Board renovation project provides the right facilities for staff to deliver crucial primary health care interventions across Kano State.
eHealth Africa (eHA) is finalizing a project with the Executive Secretary (ES) of the Kano State Primary Health Care Management Board (KSPHCMB), Dr. Muhammed Nasir Mahmoud, to renovate and upgrade the KSPHCMB’s Offices in Kano, Nigeria.
eHA worked for one month with the KSPHCMB to renovate the building and outside areas. Internet, solar panels, electricity and other facilities were added to provide a better work environment for the Executive Secretary and over 50 staff working for the KSPHCMB. “I believe if one has a conducive environment to work in with the right equipment, tools, and facilities, there should be no reason for people not to work effectively,” said Dr. Mahmoud.
Dr. Mahmoud, has been in the role for over six months, and has seen a real difference in how stakeholders and visitors now see the board’s work through the building’s renovations. He manages the day to day activities of the KSPHCMB, and also oversees the activities of 1,143 Healthcare Facilities in 44 Local Government Areas of Kano State.
“When I came, the place had a lot of issues and was dilapidated,” said Dr. Mahmoud. “The renovations have built up KSPHCMB’s portfolio and general standing in the community. People come here everyday now, and are always impressed with the changes they see, which makes me proud to head this organisation.”
"Today’s world is a technological world, and without technology people will continue to be disadvantaged. I believe the innovations of eHA will continue to benefit us and other sectors in Kano." - Dr. Muhammed Nasir Mahmoud
The renovation project is one component of the joint work and long term partnership between eHA and the KSPHCMB to improve primary health care in Kano State. Kano State has many challenges in health care delivery because of security issues and physical challenges in reaching remote locations. This results in the most vulnerable segments of society falling severely ill with preventable and treatable diseases including malaria, tapeworms, ulcers and diarrhea.
Collaboration projects between eHA and KSPHCMB include the management and coordination of immunizations across the state, a health communication system (Kano Connect), management of Emergency Operation Centers, Geographic Information Systems (GIS) tracking, and the implementation of Health Camps linked to monthly Immunization Plus Day (IPD) campaigns. Another collaboration is Vaccine Direct Delivery, which takes vaccines from KSPHCMB cold stores and directly delivers them to rural health facilities.
“I have been partnering with eHealth Africa for many years,” said Dr. Mahmoud,”and we are currently working on signing a MoU to strengthen communication within the primary health care system. I know there are many areas where we will continue to partner with eHA, and I hope we will continue to explore these other areas. Today’s world is a technological world, and without technology people will continue to be disadvantaged. I believe the innovations of eHA will continue to benefit us and other sectors in Kano.”