#EndMalaria: USAID strengthens the capacity of NMEP

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It is common knowledge that Nigeria is an environment of limited resources and a significant health challenge like malaria. It is, therefore essential to have systems and guidelines in place for smooth coordination and effective checks and balances to ensure quality
communication materials are produced for people to respond well to the situation.

The National Malaria Elimination Programme (NMEP) is responsible for coordinating the social and behaviour change communication (SBCC) regarding malaria response in Nigeria. This is done through the Advocacy, Communication and Social Mobilization
(ACSM) branch of NMEP.

What is SBCC, you may ask?

SBCC programs use the power of communication to change behaviours by influencing people’s knowledge, attitudes and social norms to improve their health and environment.

To achieve high quality and effective malaria SBCC interventions, it is critical to have competent and coordinated SBCC systems in place. It also reduces duplication
of efforts and increases the consistency of messages between implementing partners who may be funded by different donors.

Despite the high quality of a previous version of the malaria communication strategy, implementing it was a challenge. Before 2014, the Nigerian government, implementing partners and other organisations produced materials of different degrees of quality but some
had incorrect and conflicting messages and, as a result, malaria-focused messaging and communication products were inadequate and/or inconsistent. This brought up the need for clearer guidelines to better understand roles, timelines and the purpose of strategic communication to end malaria.

HC3, a global project funded by the USAID developed the SBCC Capacity Ecosystem™ to reflect the systematic assessment, design and implementation of customised and strategic capacity strengthening for SBCC.

While working on the new guidelines, the team realised that what is needed, is a long-term investment in building structures and resources can result in sustainable impact when done in a collaborative manner with a focus on impact.  There is also need to support local objectives and priorities, including donor investments.

The Ecosystem provides a structure with which a practitioner can assess SBCC capacity at the
individual, organisational and system levels. The model recognises that capacity strengthening is a dynamic, non-linear process that involves many interacting agents, and speaks to the inherently complex and often unpredictable nature of capacity strengthening and the
ever-changing environments in which we work as human.

It also recognises that a single intervention is almost never enough to make that much-needed change.
The Ecosystem model helps articulate how capacity strengthening support was provided to the coordinating systems, organisational levels and individuals within the NMEP’s ACSM unit and ACSM subcommittee/technical working groups, which, in turn, worked with the state
malaria elimination programs. HC3’s role in Nigeria was

HC3’s role in Nigeria was to build the skills of the state program staff to analyse,
develop, plan, implement and monitor high-quality evidence-based malaria strategic plans and activities for SBCC.

Here’s what Itohowo “Ity” Uko, Head of the ACSM branch of the NMEP has to say.

“In fact, HC3 Nigeria capacity building has added value to the ACSM as a whole. For example, the creation of the Content Design Teams as the technical clearing house for vetting [reviewing] and clearing all malaria communication materials, has made harmonisation of
messages possible. We are now able to ensure quality, correctness, appropriateness and consistency in malaria messaging.”

To know more about the capacity strengthening case study, read here.




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