Local innovations and reforms can help strengthen health system in Niger
Evidence from the IDRC-supported project Neglected issues relating to African health systems: An incentive for reform has identified local innovations and reforms as factors that are important in strengthening overall health systems in Niger. The multi-year project (2012–2017), supported by IDRC’s Maternal and Child Health program, examined the systemic blind spots in the country’s health systems. These gaps contribute to inequalities in access to and the quality of health services, resulting in poorer health for disadvantaged groups and increased mortality of children under five.
IDRC’s partner Laboratoire d'étude et de recherches sur les dynamiques sociales et le développement local (LASDEL) organized a regional seminar in Niamey, Niger, in February 2017 to share the project’s results. The meeting brought social science researchers, practitioners, and key stakeholders in West Africa together to discuss the blind spots prevalent in the region’s health systems. These include weak management of human resources and health information systems; poor governance and policy implementation; decentralizing healthcare responsibilities; and sustainably supporting individual projects. It also provided a forum where researchers could demonstrate their contributions to strengthening stakeholder collaboration and to share potential solutions to the challenging health problems in the region.
One such example was from Niger, where Dr Ousmane Haja, head of the Tahoua regional hospital, developed an internal monitoring system with his colleagues. Many clinical staff are overwhelmed by the amount of reporting they must complete, but rarely receive feedback or recommendations for action. The internal monitoring system enabled the team to collect data to change their practices — dramatically improving the quality of emergency and maternal health services in the facility.
Meet two West African health changemakers who are strengthening local systems
Parallel to the regional seminar by LASDEL, the West African Network for Emerging Leaders (WANEL) brought 17 physicians, journalists, civil society workers, and researchers together from six countries to explore how they could improve their collaboration to strengthen health systems.
Aline Kagambéga and Laz Ude Eze are emerging leaders involved in efforts to address sexual reproductive health and rights in West Africa.
Aline, 37, is a doctoral student at the University of Ouagadougou in Burkina Faso. Applying a socio-anthropological lens, she is examining the interactions and relations between health workers providing post-abortion care and women who have sought abortions with the drug Misoprostol. Given the high rate of self-induced abortions in the country, her findings will be an important contribution to improving policy and practice.
Laz, 34, is a medical doctor; host of the radio show TalkHealth9ja; and co-founder of African Youth Initiative on Population, Health and Development (AfrYPOD), a platform that prioritizes health and sustainable development through the active participation of young people across the continent. He is supporting efforts to develop a comprehensive sex education curriculum in the Nigerian school system, and he is currently engaged in efforts to address female genital mutilation.
Learn more about the Neglected Issues Relating to African Health Systems: An Incentive for Reform project.