Celebrating 10 Years of Public Health System Strengthening in Zambia

By Lucy Slater March 24, 2015

Like all organizations, NASTAD Global goes through cycles – cycles of staffing, cycles of scopes of work, and cycles of funding. In 2015, we approach a convergence of these cycles, and as some new opportunities are emerging, we are also finding that some existing work must end. As of March 31, 2015, the outcomes of NASTAD Global’s HIV health systems strengthening assistance for national government partners in Zambia will have been integrated into government structures and we will close the doors to our Zambia office.

NASTAD Global always works to ensure that its capacity building efforts are integrated into the agencies we work with, and we believe that our Zambian colleagues will continue to benefit from the improvements we have helped them make to their public health system for many years to come. In recognition of all that NASTAD Zambia has achieved over the last ten years, we have summarized its lasting contributions to Zambia’s HIV response:

NASTAD Zambia: Data for Action

For the last ten years, NASTAD Zambia has worked to enhance the capacity of Zambia’s public health system, particularly at the resource-deprived provincial and district levels, to monitor and evaluate their HIV programs and use the data they collect for program improvement. Over the years, NASTAD Zambia has worked with the National AIDS Council (NAC), the Republic of Zambia Ministry of Health (MOH), the University of Zambia, and other in-country partners, and together we have developed and implemented the following:

  1. The Epidemiology for Data Users (EDU) training curriculum enhances understanding of basic epidemiology, monitoring and evaluation (M&E), data analysis and data use skills for district and facility level staff. Participants applied the knowledge and skills gained by developing a district or provincial epidemiologic profile, as well as M&E plans in support of the National HIV/AIDS/STI/TB Strategic Framework.
  2. As a follow-up to the EDU, in an effort to improve the capacity of health facility staff to collect relevant, quality data, and analyze and use the data to improve the quality of health care in Zambia, the Quality Improvement through Data Use (QIDU) curriculum was developed. This curriculum focuses on enhancing health facility staff skills to review routinely collected data to assess quality of health care delivery, and to develop interventions using systematic performance improvement approaches.
  3. NASTAD supported the University of Zambia to develop its Center of Excellence for Monitoring & Evaluation (CoE for M&E). Assistance spanned from strategic planning to curriculum development to interim impact assessment to compilation of all materials into the CoE M&E’s Short Course Training Manual. In doing so, NASTAD facilitated faculty exchange visits with Cornell University and the University of Zambia, as well as with faculty from two smaller U.S. universities, to build a greater network for peer-to-peer exchange.

NASTAD Zambia: Public Health Systems

NASTAD Zambia has also been instrumental in working with the Zambian government to advocate on behalf of disenfranchised key populations, in particular men who have sex with men (MSM) and commercial sex workers (CSWs). Due to institutionalized stigma within some government units, progress towards investigating and understanding the needs of populations at greatest risk for HIV was limited in Zambia. Leveraging its advocacy experience, NASTAD helped the study group (NAC, Population Council, and others) obtain an amnesty letter from the Ministry of Home Affairs and a support letter from the Drug Enforcement Commission, which led to ethical approval to conduct a Formative Assessment of HIV Risk and Size Estimation among Key Populations. NASTAD Zambia also co-facilitated and coordinated the Key Populations Technical Working Group, led by NAC, which was instrumental in directly engaging members of key populations with government agencies. With this group, NASTAD Zambia developed a report on Legal, Policy, and Socio-cultural Barriers to HIV-related Prevention, Care, Treatment, and Support for Key Populations, led the process to write the first ever Key Populations chapter for the Revised National AIDS Strategic Framework (R-NASF) 2014-2016, and contributed to the Country Coordinating Mechanism for Zambia Global Fund, ensuring a focus on key populations was included in proposed scopes of work in the Global Fund application.

While we are sad to close our office doors in Zambia, and see our treasured colleagues move on, we are extremely proud of the work that they have done, and we know that they will continue to contribute significantly to strengthened public health in Zambia.

If you are interested in learning more about what NASTAD has done in Zambia to support the HIV response, please contact Luisa Pessoa-Brandao. Visit NASTAD.org/global to learn more about the NASTAD Global Program.