To achieve universal coverage of insecticide-treated nets (ITNs), the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that countries combine mass campaigns of free ITNs with continuous distribution strategies through multiple channels. Throughout much of sub-Saharan Africa, where malaria remains endemic, National Malaria Control Programs (NMCP) orchestrate these mass campaigns every two to three years, often with the technical assistance of the Alliance for Malaria Prevention’s (AMP) trained consultants. The consultants work with the NMCPs, reinforcing their competencies in mass campaign planning. Given the constantly changing context in which these campaigns take place and introduction of new technologies and best practices, trainings provide a critical opportunity to disseminate guidance and share information and experiences.
The previous training, conducted in 2015, focused on mass campaign planning. However, with the WHO, NMCPs, and international community’s increased interest in continuous distribution, this year’s training incorporated sessions on continuous distribution as well. From January 31–February 3, 2018, VectorWorks, in collaboration with AMP, through the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), trained 15 of the most knowledgeable consultants in ITN mass campaigns These highly experienced consultants come from 13 countries including Canada, Côte d’Ivoire, Guatemala, Kenya, Mauritius, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, Switzerland, Togo, Uganda, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Together, they have provided technical assistance in more than 36 countries across the world since 2008.
The training enabled the consultants to share lessons learned across countries; the group also selected the best tools, templates, and AMP recommendations for countries to be included in updates to the AMP toolkit and Continuous Distribution toolkit. The training covered a refresher on the critical pieces of mass campaign planning: logistics, communication, micro- and macro-planning, implementation, and evaluation. And, while many of the consultants know about continuous distribution, the training formally introduced it; specifically, the continuous distribution options of school- and community-based distribution, but also the private sector and retail sales.
The training used adult learning techniques and engaged the consultants in interactive activities throughout the four days. In line with Malcolm Knowles advice, a pioneer in the adult learning field, the training acknowledged that adults want to be actively involved in their own learning—from choosing their learning objectives, using their knowledge and life experiences in their learning, and focusing on active discussions of these experiences. VectorWorks and AMP followed Knowles’ advice and found the consultants were motivated to learn and enthusiastic throughout.
The participants had overwhelmingly positive feedback, reporting that the training was “intense,” “educational,” and “informative.” In addition, all participants reported that the objectives of the training were achieved or mostly achieved. A key output of the training was creating an internal knowledge management system to help in the continuous sharing of knowledge and best practices among AMP consultants.
During the fall of 2018, VectorWorks will support regional trainings in both English and French in sub-Saharan Africa. Selected master consultants will provide technical and leadership training for NMCP managers and implementing partners, in the identified countries, who are planning a mass campaign in 2019 or 2020, and those considering implementing continuous distribution strategies.