Nigerian public health experts learn from “eye-opening” trip to India
In June 2019, the SHOPS Plus team in Nigeria sponsored a one-week trip to India for 10 Nigerian tuberculosis (TB) experts to learn from India’s Revised National TB Control Program and the SHOPS Plus program in India. Professionals from Nigeria’s Ministry of Health and private health sector, the Global Fund, and USAID went on the trip.
Dr. Sokoya Olusola Daniel, the assistant director and Lagos State TB and leprosy program manager, stated that the experience was “eye-opening” and he will advocate for greater ownership of TB programs and political will to end TB.
Learning how India tracks TB cases in real time
In Mumbai and Bangalore, the group visited hospitals, pharmacies, and large treatment centers that serve patients with drug-susceptible and multi-drug-resistant TB. Group members observed how the Indian government maps facilities and tracks TB cases in real time, allowing it to appropriately allocate resources and ensure access to diagnostic technology that decreases the turnaround time of test results. Coupled with the mapping, India’s investment in multiple diagnostic mechanisms allows for quick diagnoses.
The Indian government partners with local organizations—known as intermediary organizations—in a public-private model that was successfully implemented by the SHOPS Plus predecessor project. The intermediary organizations support patients and private providers through every step of the patient pathway from TB education and screening to completion of the six months of treatment. The government also applies digital health innovations to TB services across the public and private sectors. These activities improve treatment adherence and success rates.
Nigeria’s approach to TB control also incorporates intermediary organizations and digital health platforms. To increase TB case detection and treatment completion rates, the SHOPS Plus team in Nigeria engages private providers in forming networks of various provider types—clinical facilities, labs, community pharmacies, and patent proprietary medicine vendors.
Moving toward a TB-free Nigeria
At the end of the learning trip, Nigerian participants reaffirmed their goal of ending TB. They will seek to improve political commitment and increase awareness among providers and the community. The group returned home with a TB-free Nigeria at the forefront of their minds and poised to be a voice of change within their respective networks.