For many organisations across development programmes, ‘capacity building’ has mainly referred to training events. However, SuNMaP went far beyond that to look at increasing the knowledge, skills and practices of those individuals and organisations – public, private and commercial - working in many different ways to combat malaria.
SuNMaP’s capacity building activities across all of these areas has been crucial to its success, and has embedded malaria control programmes within health planning, budgeting and implementing processes at national, state and local levels.
At the start of SuNMaP’s programme in 2008, a baseline survey was conducted to explore the existing capacity of the National Malaria Elimination Programme (NMEP) and State Malaria Elimination Programme (SMEP) staff and field workers to deliver malaria control. The results pointed to inconsistency in training materials and poor adherence to policy recommendations on malaria control. As a result, SuNMaP worked with a variety of stakeholders to develop an ambitious strategy for capacity building.
Working across the public and private sectors, SuNMaP set out to improve the capacity of:
SuNMaP’s programme implementation is based on three basic principles:
The initial phase of service delivery training targeted health workers in selected facilities, with more than 23,000 trained by the end of the programme. Training modules were designed to be participatory and adaptable to levels of health care, and aimed to help participants understand prevalent misconceptions and barriers, identify linkages between the malaria transmission cycle and key malaria control interventions, and facilitate the widespread adoption of best practice principles for the treatment of the disease.
The development of new programme management training modules commenced one year later, and were designed to have wider application across all areas of health care. Six modules were developed for state and local government area (LGA) managers, comprising financial management and procurement; supply management; programme planning and budgeting; general management; integrated supportive supervision; and monitoring and evaluation.
SuNMaP provides technical assistance to both the NMEP and SMEP to encourage them to acknowledge the importance of capacity building and incorporate it into their activities. By building the capacity of the national and state programmes, they will be better able to lead malaria control efforts. This work involves increasing coordination and planning within federal, state and local authorities to develop operational plans for effective malaria control programmes.
Several key lessons emerged as a result of our capacity building activities:
Watch our video on capacity building on Nigeria below:
SuNMaP interventions in capacity building have led to knowledge and practice gains in the health systems of its ten focal states and beyond, but a great deal remains to be done throughout the rest of Nigeria. The NMEP has taken on responsibility for leading this process and will lead states in introducing capacity building initiatives going forward. As new malaria prevention and treatment technologies arrive in Nigeria, such as the relatively recent introduction of rapid diagnostic testing kits and artemisinin combination therapy drugs, new training protocols will need to be developed and rolled out. Capacity building is therefore a fluid process, and will require constant attention and action by the NMEP and its state and local partners to keep pace with new developments for tackling malaria.