The first round of SCI-supported treatment has started in Nigeria as part of a collaboration between SCI and Sightsavers.
The programme will aim to provide 3 million treatments against schistosomiasis and close to 800,000 treatments against soil-transmitted helminth infections for school-age children, in 54 Local Governorate Authorities, across 5 states.
The implementation of the programme will be supported by the Nigerian Federal Ministry of Health and Sightsavers, with funding from SCI. Addtionally, SCI will provide technical assistance where appropriate.
This is a very exciting project for SCI, as it has been made possible through unrestricted funds acquired through the recommendation of GiveWell, an international charity evaluator.
SCI’s Programme Manager for Nigeria, Yolisa Nalule, says: “It is a great feeling to be part of the first treatment programme in these states, with an amazing team supporting it. There were no treatments available for these children before this programme and we hope to see positive results in controlling these diseases over time.”
It is anticipated that all treatments will be distributed by the end of September 2017, with a coverage survey to take place soon after, to determine success.
An estimated 28 million people are in need of treatment for schistosomiasis in Nigeria, but only 30% of these individuals are currently being reached. It is hoped that through partnerships such as the one between Sightsavers and SCI, and with the support of donors including USAID, DFID and individuals, the national programme will be able to scale up treatment for NTDs and reach all those affected.
SCI collaborated with Niger’s Ministry of Health to provide training in data cleaning and analysis, to ensure treatment programmes perform optimally.
Data gathered by countries during surveys to assess the numbers of individuals treated and those who remain infected, help to inform the Ministry of Health’s treatment strategy and determine the success and impact of treatment programmes.
Skills in survey data cleaning and analysis are therefore crucial to being able to establish the success of the programme. SCI are working with the Ministries of Health, and their partners, to train key members of staff, to ensure data gathered is as of high quality, is informative as possible and that there is capacity within country to use it.
Involving programme partners in the data cleaning and analysis process helps the partners to understand the results generated by the biostatisticians at SCI. In addition, it also enables the programme partners to translate the information, develop recommendations and create actions to develop and improve the effectiveness and efficiency of their national treatment strategy.
This was the first data cleaning and analysis training course delivered for the treatment programme in Niger, with the help of SCI’s Biostatistician Udo Wittman and the national programme coordinator, Dr Gnandou Issa. It was a great success, with one trainee saying in the feedback questionnaire: “Before the training, I had difficulty entering data after an investigation, but now can enter the data without a problem.”
Mousumi Rahman, SCI’s Programme Manager for Niger and the Democratic Republic of the Congo says: “We greatly enjoyed working with the team in Niger to understand their training needs and hope to offer additional coverage and impact survey statistical training in future. Through training, we feel that our programme partners in Niger will have all the necessary skills to manage all aspects of the treatment programme in the longer-term and so achieve complete programmatic sustainability.”