In 2016, I-TECH Malawi joined The Kuunika Project: Data for Action, a 4-year program funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and implemented through the Government of Malawi and partners. It aims to establish a strong base of high-quality, routinely-available data and an ingrained culture of data use among technicians and policy makers in the health sector, using HIV as a first use case.
Since 2003, I-TECH Malawi has provided technical assistance to the Malawi Ministry of Health and partners to support national health systems strengthening initiatives and a timely national HIV response through the implementation of robust prevention, care, and treatment strategies along the care continuum. Through PEPFAR support, I-TECH has made significant contributions to the country’s capacity to develop a competent health care workforce and administer quality HIV prevention, care, and treatment programs. I-TECH is currently funded through CDC Malawi to implement this scope of work.
Technical Support to the National HIV Response
I-TECH’s strategies, priorities, and areas of focus are aligned with the PEPFAR Blueprint, Partnership Framework Implementation Plan, the Malawi Growth and Development Strategy II 2011-2016, the Malawi Health Sector Strategic Plan 2011-2016 and new PEPFAR guidance. Activities being implemented by I-TECH have been aligned to 90:90:90 cascade in order to effectively contribute to attainment of the ambitious targets to be achieved by 2020. I-TECH’s programming is responsive to the national agenda, in part because of its central role in providing senior Technical Advisor, Fellows and general program support to MOH via the Department of HIV and AIDS, National TB Program and the Public Health Institute of Malawi.
Seconded staff work in collaboration with government officers and program managers, and bring technical expertise to health systems strengthening (HSS) initiatives. Seconded staff actively participate in the conduct of quarterly supportive supervisory visits to facilities, provide logistical and supply chain management support for HIV and related commodities, mentor health care workers, track in-service training data, support electronic data systems, contribute to the strengthening of health management information systems, conduct operations research, provide M&E support. These USG-funded activities have continued to support the implementation and scale up of important public health interventions, such as Option B+, integrated care (TB/HIV, PMTCT/HIV), more rigorous quality assurance of care and treatment through accurate data collection and site level feedback.
Field Epidemiology Training Program
The Frontline Field Epidemiology Training Program (Frontline FETP) enhances the capacity of HIV and AIDS surveillance and strengthens health systems. The program contributes to a sustainable response to HIV by training health professionals in basic field epidemiology that can support responsiveness to HIV surveillance needs. Future cohorts will continue to encourage the inclusion of participants working in HIV and participation in HIV-related projects during field work. Frontline FETP supports the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development to train health professionals in basic field epidemiology. The program aims to advance epidemiological capacity at the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development where the Department of Animal Health and Livestock is based. Three training cohorts are planned in the fiscal year 2016/17. Each cohort will consist of a minimum of 10 participants who take 12 weeks to graduate.
Pre-Service Capacity Building
I-TECH Malawi also works closely with pre-service training partners and professional regulatory bodies to address critical HRH bottlenecks by strengthening educational programs for healthcare cadres and ensuring the safe delivery of quality health services. In all of its efforts, I-TECH emphasizes strong collaborative planning, targeted needs assessments, interventions that address priority needs, sustainability, and local ownership of programs. I-TECH works with a wide range of stakeholders and partners to the Nursing Midwifery Technician (NMT) program to develop knowledge, build skills, and strengthen process mechanisms and organizational capacity for nurse midwifery education. This holistic approach, which spans the nine NMT training colleges of CHAM, NMCM, MOH and other stakeholders, is designed to support long-term sustainability of pre-service nursing midwifery education initiatives. This TA also benefits NMCM in strengthening its regulatory capacity and programming in relation to nursing education and practice through such initiatives as revision of the Registered Nurse Midwife syllabus, Continuing Professional Development, and Scope of Practice. In addition, CHAM colleges are supported on student data management through a web-based online system, Training System for Monitoring and Reporting Tool (TrainSMART).