Nigeria team highlights work on quality at the Future of Health conference
How do we begin to change the narrative about health care in Nigeria? This was the question asked at the Future of Health conference held in Abuja on October 17, 2019 that SHOPS Plus staff attended along with over 500 other stakeholders. The annual conference was organized by Nigeria Health Watch, a nonprofit organization that offers communication and advocacy expertise in the health sector. The conference brought together stakeholders from the private and public sectors to discuss the country’s health system challenges.
Dr. Amina Aminu, the technical director of the SHOPS Plus family planning program in Nigeria, presented on how the project’s family planning and tuberculosis (TB) programs are improving Nigerians’ access to quality health care. She highlighted the program’s approach to family planning training, which emphasizes not only clinical skills, but also a provider’s willingness to deliver quality services by addressing issues such as gender bias, provider bias, and constructive male engagement. The project has trained over 540 community health extension workers. This cadre typically has only the most basic training in clinical and service delivery skills. However, they are often the only providers available in rural and hard-to-reach areas. Dr. Aminu discussed how training community health extension workers to provide long-acting reversible contraceptives has given more women access to the full method mix. Overall, the program has reached more than 63,000 new users in four states so far.
Dr. Aminu also described the TB program’s focus on strengthening the patient pathway in the private sector to ensure all patients screened for TB make it to treatment, if diagnosed. The program achieves this through the creation of private sector networks with clinical facilities serving as TB treatment hubs and different cadres of providers with whom patients may have a first contact, such as patent and proprietary medicine vendors, laboratories, and pharmacies, serving as TB screening and testing spokes. Dr. Aminu also highlighted the development of the TB STARR app (available on the Google Play store). SHOPS Plus collaboratively developed the app with end users to facilitate gathering of real-time data on patients as they move along the patient pathway and to minimize the burden of paperwork for providers. Since TB STARR’s launch in August 2019, the app has been downloaded over 1,000 times, which has resulted in 680 registered users and several cases reported.
The project booth was popular at the conference. Segun, the strategic health information officer of the TB program, gave visitors a demo of TB STARR. To learn more about what the SHOPS Plus TB and FP programs are doing in Nigeria, watch Dr. Amina’s presentation at the Future of Health Conference.