Keys to Success: Partner Collaboration and Buy-In

Mozambique’s National Leprosy Program Coordinator, Dr. Guilengue, leads a discussion about NTD mapping with a diverse group of partners. Among those pictured here is Dr. Marilia (center, seated), the National NTD Manager in Mozambique.

Earlier this month, AIM Initiative staff worked collaboratively with diverse partners in Mozambique to advance mapping efforts, which is the first step in our innovative approach to increase access to case management services for NTDs.

Each country is at a different phase of identifying where NTD case management is greatest, with the goal of putting into place plans for targeting integrated health care services to those communities.

“AIM’s approach to bring together – from the outset – country ministries of health, and on-the-ground and international non-governmental partners, is working very well,” said AIM Program Director Dr. Emmy van der Grinten.

In particular, National Leprosy Program Coordinator Dr. Francisco Guilengue and Arie de Kruijff, country leader for The Leprosy Mission, co-chaired a meeting with a diverse team in Mozambique to discuss next steps. The team included representatives from the Ministry of Health and the World Health Organization, the National Bureau of Statistics, and partners such as the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, the International Federation of Anti-Leprosy Associations and numerous non-governmental organizations.

At first, according to Dr. van der Grinten, the different groups had a heated discussion about which NTDs to map, which data is available, and which organization would be responsible for collecting what information. But in the end, the groups came up with similar objectives, sub-objectives and activities, and a strong sense of collective ownership for the project.

The group also developed a new idea for how to develop an innovative integrated electronic information system (based on the District Health Information Systems currently used). This information system will be used to retrospectively enter available data for leprosy, lymphatic filariasis and trachoma, which will then be used for mapping. Once this process is complete, the government can use the same system for routine data collection.

Working together to identify gaps in current data collection and to discuss improving integrated case management plans and overall implementation are critical for AIM’s efforts to increase early diagnosis and access to appropriate treatment for the millions of people affected by and at-risk for NTDs.

“The approach we’re following may be a bit slower, but for implementation to run as smoothly as possible, getting partners’ buy-in early on is critical for success.”