Thoughts on Establishing Malaria Trainings in Sierra Leone

By Ifeanyi Stanley Muoghalu, MD. This blog post analyses the relevance of the "Quick Country Start-Up Package for Malaria Surveillance, Monitoring, and Evaluation Training" in the context of Sierra Leone and offers some constructive observations.

By Ifeanyi Stanley Muoghalu, MD

As more countries consider strategies to include malaria surveillance as a core intervention for their programs, they will need guidance on the best way to train implementers on malaria surveillance, monitoring, and evaluation (SME). Ideally, this guidance would be based on learning from countries that have done this and also on lessons learned over time.

For a decade, MEASURE Evaluation has supported annual malaria SME training programs and has produced the Quick Country Start-Up Package for Malaria Surveillance, Monitoring, and Evaluation Training reference document. This document is a start-up guide for future country malaria SME workshops and provides step-by-step approaches, practical tools, and trouble-shooting for implementers.

As a physician and, very recently, the resident advisor for MEASURE Evaluation in Sierra Leone, my objective is to critically analyse the relevance of the guide in the context of Sierra Leone and to offer some constructive observations.

Sierra Leone is burdened with challenges ranging from the high burden of malaria, frequent stockout of malaria commodities, and limited capacity in malaria SME. Reportedly, only one malaria SME alumni from Sierra Leone has participated in the annual SME training program since its inception in 2010. To address this capacity gap and build the critical mass of human resource capacity that Sierra Leone needs, I think the guide could help the country set up its own malaria SME training program.

For other countries considering a similar move, I think the contents and background information along with the step-by-step approach are a vital first step in establishing and implementing an effective training program. However, I would caution that—in my view—the guide should place more emphasis on Step 1: the engagement of stakeholders. Sierra Leone has a plethora of partners supporting various malaria activities and stakeholder engagement will be complex.

Further, I would draw a country’s attention to Step 5: Organization of a Facilitators’ Meeting. This may be the most valuable piece of the guide. The coming together of facilitators, in my opinion, will promote institutional and individual ownership and increase the desire of facilitators to strengthen the collective understanding of participants. However, one weakness of the guide may be that including the proposed number of facilitators at the initial stage will be challenging; but that fact, in my view, is not heightened as a challenge. I hope further editions may discuss possible solutions for countries with limited capacity to find facilitators. Another potential weakness of the document is that, in some countries, conflict may exist between the national malaria control program and the coordinator from academic institutions involved in the training. I believe the solution to this challenge, if it arises, would be to address it at the onset, prior to stakeholder engagement.

Another added-value of the guide is the section on post-training. This section is detailed and easy to understand. The tools and case studies are adaptable to the context of Sierra Leone, and likely to many other contexts.

In conclusion, as Sierra Leone joins the rest of the world to commemorate the World Malaria Day on April 25, 2019, I look to see it use this document, contextualize Sierra Leone’s particular challenges, and propose solutions.

For more information

Dr. Muoghalu is the malaria resident advisor for Sierra Leone, MEASURE Evaluation, ICF. For information on MEASURE Evaluation’s work in malaria, please visit https://www.measureevaluation.org/our-work/malaria