By Suzy Campbell, Corrado Minetti, Margaret Gyapong (on behalf of group B)
Across the health continuum it is vitally important to engage with all relevant stakeholders from the outset. Since the inception of COUNTDOWN this has been a priority, which culminated in exemplary examples of multi-stakeholder engagement being presented at our annual partner meeting. Our first year has focussed on defining key NTD evidence gaps and developing workplans to address these. Liaising with our stakeholders at all levels has been a critical factor in ensuring that the work which we intend to achieve within COUNTDOWN is politically and practically meaningful across all components of the NTD community. Hearing from each partner country in turn, there were some amazing similarities in approaches to multi-sectoral engagement, with the following highlights:
- All countries have invested in inception meetings and stakeholder mapping to ensure that they are reaching all relevant stakeholders. Evidence gaps and subsequent research questions have then been defined in partnership with them
- Our partner countries are engaging with many government ministries, including, amongst others, departments of local government, education, finance, water resources, and agriculture
- A strong emphasis has also been placed on involvement with NTD Partners, Academic Institutions, funding agencies and Non-Government organisations at country level. These include but are not limited to World Health Organization, END, Sightsavers, the Partnership for Child Development, the Taskforce for Global Health, the media, national NTD control programmes, community drug distributors and health workers, and NTD partners in academic institutions
- Various stakeholder meetings, scientific meetings, media events, deworming campaigns and official launches have been organised by COUNTDOWN partners, providing a strong platform upon which partners will be able to disseminate our messages throughout the NTD community.
The highlight of our recently ended Partners meeting in Accra (20th-22nd April 2016) was the rare five minute opportunity to engage with the WHO African Regional Program Review Group for Neglected Tropical Disease, key stakeholder for COUNTDOWN.
This demonstrates the hard work that each of the COUNTDOWN countries has done, with the full spectrum from local communities, to district, national and then international levels represented, and laterally, a broad primary base beyond the traditional health sector. With this engagement from the outset, our vision of achieving a holistic integrated approach to NTD implementation research is already being realised. We look forward to continuing to work with our stakeholders, and capitalising on this momentum, as we progress with our implementation research and uptake.
Photo: Dr Margaret Gyapong leading an energetic discussion with COUNTDOWN partners about the importance of multi-stakeholder engagement!