Quick Questions with Eric Coulibaly: Strengthening National Malaria Control Programs

Quick Questions with Eric Coulibaly: Strengthening National Malaria Control Programs

Eric Coulibaly serves as the HRH2030-supported technical advisor for capacity building at the National Malaria Control Program in Niger.

April 25 marks World Malaria Day, a time to rally support for eradicating the disease that claims the lives of more than 400,000 people each year. Countries have made tremendous progress in the fight to end malaria for good — a recent report estimates a 57 percent decrease in the rate of malaria deaths across sub-Saharan Africa during the past 15 years. Despite this achievement, the World Health Organization calls for accelerating the pace of progress in order to reach the goals laid out in its Global Technical Strategy for Malaria. Included among these are a 90 percent reduction in mortality rate (based upon 2015 data).

Health systems, which include human resources for health (HRH), play a critical role in the fight against malaria. Among its strategic approaches for 2015-2020, the President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI) focuses on building health system capacity. With support from PMI and USAID, HRH2030’s Capacity Building for Malaria activity works directly with Eric Coulibaly, a dedicated technical advisor to the National Malaria Control Program in Niger, to build the capabilities of program staff and optimize malaria control interventions.

How is HRH2030 helping Niger’s National Malaria Control Program staff make better supply chain decisions?

The malaria commodities supply chain in Niger suffers due to lack of reliable logistics data and weak staff capacity to use available data for decision-making. To improve the situation, the National Malaria Control Program (NMCP) recently recruited a pharmacist to manage its commodities supply chain. As HRH2030’s technical advisor to the NMCP, I am working with colleagues to develop new tools and improve existing tools for commodities management at the central level.

I’m currently coaching the NMCP pharmacist and other staff dedicated to supply chain to conduct quarterly inventory at the central medical store and analyze discrepancies. I’m also helping the team reconcile logistics data at the central level with morbidity data at the district level and analyze gaps to develop a better commodities distribution plan. For example, we can uncover discrepancies in the data by comparing the number of people receiving rapid diagnostic tests and the number of tests used with the stock on hand at the district level. Finding these discrepancies flags areas for the NMCP to conduct site visits and bolster supervision efforts.

Also, we are developing supply chain indicators, such as rate of facilities experiencing stock out, specifically for malaria commodities. These indicators will be incorporated into the global monitoring and evaluation plan of NMCP. Finally, we are supporting the country with the implementation of a logistics management and information system (LMIS), which will inform better decision making and result in improved availability of commodities for patients.

How are you using the activity’s maturity model to strengthen National Malaria Control Program capacity?

A year ago, the priorities for the NMCP in Niger focused on management of commodities and my interventions as technical advisor focused on supply chain. When my position officially transitioned to the HRH2030 program in January [from USAID SIAPS], we began viewing staff capacity as a key area for improvement.

We are in the process of conducting an assessment of the NMCP using the capability maturity model, which has been considered an important point of intervention. This framework, designed to identify capacity gaps across several dimensions — supply chain management, leadership and governance, strategic planning — allows for iterative improvements that are contextually appropriate given the country’s and the program’s available resources.

We’re currently focusing on monitoring and evaluation, using the capability maturity model to identify weaknesses and opportunities for improvement in the NMCP monitoring and evaluation (M&E) system. For example, we’ll look at how well staff integrate M&E into planning and implementation. After M&E, our assessment of the NMCP will continue by applying this model to management and leadership.