Microplanning: Developing local solutions to control and eliminate NTDs

03 Aug 2023
An NTDCP staff member addresses community members during site visit to Monduli District, Tanzania. Photo credit: RTI International

In June, USAID’s Act to End NTDs | East hosted the first international Microplanning Training of Trainers Workshop in Arusha, Tanzania. The workshop followed the release of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Microplanning manual to guide implementation of preventive chemotherapy to control and eliminate neglected tropical diseases. The training aimed to orient and support health ministries and partners on the microplanning process and how to develop community driven plans for the control and elimination of NTDs, especially related to the implementation of mass drug administration in their communities. As a training of trainers, it is anticipated that participants will replicate the training for relevant health ministry and partner staff on the microplanning process and application of its tools.  

Tanzania was selected to host the workshop, as Tanzania’s Ministry of Health has been a leader in the use of microplanning concepts and tools for NTDs, including initial input and involvement with WHO in the pilot of the manual itself that was published in 2022.  During the training, participants learned and observed the application of microplanning in Tanzania, providing the opportunity to learn from their experience and how they might adapt learnings to other contexts.   

“To achieve the targets of the WHO road map for Neglected Tropical Diseases 2021-2030, community driven recommendations must be strongly addressed to achieve sustainable elimination. I therefore congratulate the World Health Organization for developing the Microplanning manual to guide implementation of preventive chemotherapy to control and eliminate Neglected Tropical Diseases and mobilizing partners to prepare this high-level training on microplanning aiming at developing the pool of facilitators for endemic countries” said Dr. Saitore Laizer Laishooki, Acting Chief Medical Officer 

Workshop participants conducting site visits to implement the microplanning process for upcoming MDA in Longido district, Tanzania. Photo credit: RTI International

The regional workshop brought together 50+ participants, including staff from USAID’s Act to End NTDs | East program and Ministry of Health representatives from eight countries including Tanzania, Ethiopia, Uganda, Nigeria, Mozambique, Malawi, Kenya, and Haiti. Also in attendance were several high-level government representatives from Tanzania’s Neglected Tropical Disease Control Program, Regional Administration and Local Government (PO-RALG), WHO HQ, WHO AFRO, WHO Tanzania, END Fund, Unlimit Health, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Speakers included Dr. Saitore (Acting Chief Medical Officer), Dr. Sylvia Mamkwe (Regional Medical Officer, Arusha), Dr. Rogath Kishimba (Acting Director of Preventive Services), Mr. Vones Uiso (Acting Regional Medical Officer, Arusha), Dr. George Kabona (NTDCP Program Manager), Dr. Alexander May (PORALG), Upendo Mwingira (USAID’s Act to End NTDs | East program), Denise Mupfasoni (WHO), Pauline Mwinzi (WHO AFRO), and Tara Brant (CDC). 

Following two days of training on the microplanning process and tools developed by WHO, the participants put their training into practice – supporting the real-time development of microplans in 8 communities within the Monduli and Longido districts. By identifying targeted populations, defining related needs, and collaborating on the implementation of the WHO microplanning guidance, the trainees aided the communities’ preparation for upcoming mass drug administration for trachoma.  

“It is my hope that, the targeted beneficiaries of the training (who are the expert teams for combating NTDs from various countries in the world) have acquired the knowledge and skills necessary to formulate actionable plans that will ensure effective implementation of the ongoing interventions, particularly administration of preventive chemotherapy.” said Dr. Mamkwe, Regional Medical Officer, Arusha 

With more than 17 million people no longer at risk for trachoma, Tanzania has already made tremendous progress towards eliminating the disease thanks to strong government leadership and the implementation of local, community-driven approaches like microplanning. With the completion of the Microplanning Training of Trainers, a new pool of facilitators is now equipped to implement such approaches and ensure no one is left behind as we work to eliminate NTDs.