ALMA launches new resources on neglected tropical diseases to mark world rabies day
Global, 29 September 2021 – African countries with the support of the African Leaders Malaria Alliance, Speak Up Africa and partners Tuesday hosted a webinar during World Rabies Day to rally support to end Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs). This group of diseases continue to impact the poorest and most marginalized in Africa. Women and children are disproportionately affected by these devastating diseases. Simple and affordable solutions exist to stop the suffering. However, millions of people who require treatment remain without access to medicines. Individuals requiring a simple surgery continue to suffer in pain. Children afflicted with NTDs are often condemned to a life of misery. The African Leaders Malaria Alliance (ALMA) and global development partners are trying to change this by supporting Ministries of Health to strengthen action and accountability in the health system.
“In commemoration of World Rabies Day, I am delighted to announce that we are launching new resources on NTDs scorecards for accountability and action including best practices on how countries have used these management tools to accelerate the fight against these diseases which affect the most vulnerable populations in our communities. We are also very happy to share the best practices from the use of the community scorecard approach, a critical tool to give communities an active role in improving services.” said Joy Phumaphi, ALMA’s Executive Secretary.
NTDs are a group of preventable and treatable diseases that affect 1.5 billion people worldwide. They are not only a health problem, but they also hinder growth, productivity and education. In 2017, African Heads of State and Government made the resolution to add a Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) indicator to the ALMA scorecard, positioning NTDs alongside Malaria, HIV/AIDs and maternal and child health as top health priorities for the continent.
The ALMA scorecard for accountability and action is presented every quarter to senior political leaders including Presidents and ministers to track progress and drive action.
ALMA has also supported countries with the development of national and subnational level scorecards for health. Since 2017, ALMA has supported 8 countries in developing NTDs scorecard management tools to accelerate progress against NTDs.
During the webinar experts from Ghana, Guinea and the Republic of Congo highlighted the impact of national scorecards including how they have been used to enhance resource commitments from governments, partners, and even communities. For example, in 2019, the Republic of Congo used the scorecard to identify gaps in NTD interventions. The National NTD programme used the scorecard to advocate for more funds from the government. In 2020, a budget line on NTDs was created with a commitment of 100,000 million CFA francs (nearly US$170,000) to support the four NTD programmes. The country also managed to mobilize additional funds from ESPEN for Mass Drug Administration targeting two NTDs in 2021.
In Ghana, ALMA supported the rollout of a community scorecard in 2018, based on lessons learned from the implementation of Ethiopia’s community scorecard. The community scorecard is led by community members to assess the quality of health services and create action plans that address health gaps. The data are used by communities, government, and partners to systematically obtain feedback from users of health services and address the issues identified by the community. It provides stakeholders unique insight into the demand side of the health services. The Community Scorecard has become an essential component of the primary health care strategy in Ghana and is used in two major domains. The first is in improving the policy landscape in terms of service delivery and the second in building partnerships with community structures, particularly community leaders to drive accountability and action.
“Ghana has used the community scorecard to drive a better health system and fill the critical gaps existing at the community and health centre level that otherwise would not have been addressed,” said Dr. Koku Awoonor-Williams, Former Director of the Division for Policy, Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation at the Ghana Health Service. The former Director highlighted many scorecard-driven actions, including the acquisition of land for the construction of health facilities.
In Guinea, five communities have been mobilized to lead action in the fight against NTDs. As a result, community perceptions towards NTDs are changing, from believing that these diseases are linked to supernatural spells to understanding that they are linked to human behavior and environmental factors.
“Through training and collaboration with media and 40 civil society organizations, communities have also been educated on how to fight against NTDs,” said Salomon Dopavogui, Executive Director of Jeunesse Secours, and President of the No to NTDs Civil Society Network, during the webinar.
According to Francois Missamou, the National Coordinator of NTDs in Congo’s Ministry of Health and a panelist at the webinar, the scorecard has become an advocacy tool in Congo, not only for the mobilization of human resources necessary to fight against NTDs but also for the mobilization of resources. The scorecard has also been integrated into reports shared with the health ministry as well as partners providing financial and technical support to initiatives fighting against NTDs in the country.
The release of new learning resources on NTDs comes after the launch of the ALMA Scorecard Hub in February this year by His Excellency President Uhuru Kenyatta the President of Kenya and Chair of ALMA. The Scorecard Hub is a platform used to disseminate best practices in scorecard use. The platform includes training courses, guidelines and toolkits, and publicly displays data for countries that have chosen to publish their scorecard. Access the Scorecard Hub here.
National NTDs scorecards are helping to identify bottlenecks and accelerate action while keeping the diseases high on the political agenda.
Find out more on scorecards and Neglected Tropical Diseases here.