Eastern and Southern Africa Regional Network Initiative

The Eastern and Southern Africa Region (ESA) includes about half of the population in sub-Saharan Africa, and fertility levels remain high, particularly in East African countries. Child and maternal mortality rates in the region came down in the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) era, but a substantial challenge remains in all ESA countries, and achieving the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) targets are within reach only if robust evidence drives the implementation of appropriate, effective and efficient interventions, and responds to complementary challenges related to adolescent sexual and reproductive health, equity in access to quality health services and gender equality. This includes, but is not limited to, past fertility trends that have resulted in a large cohort of adolescents in need of services.

The new CD2030 ESA regional network is hosted by Africa Population Health Research Center, and has the following main goals:

  • strengthening the evidence in support of RMNCAH and nutrition programs through multi-country studies
  • enhancing the capacity of country and regional institutions to conduct RMNCAH and nutrition related analyses and research and effectively communicate the findings to policy makers.

Activities

The initial aim is to establish a three-year initiative in partnership with national and regional institutions to conduct multi-country studies on RMNCAH & nutrition that generate evidence for policymaking and programs at the national, regional and global levels. The project will incorporate a strong capacity strengthening component and lead to the creation of a regional network of institutions linked with the Countdown to 2030 initiative. The centerpiece for 2017-2020 are three year-long rounds of analysis, evidence generation and communication with country and global institutions. The prototype for a round of analysis and communication is described in Figure 1.

General description of a one round of analysis and capacity strengthening

The analysis component uses data from household surveys (e.g. to assess the implementation status of the continuum of care and equity in the coverage of interventions), health facilities (DHIS2, facility assessments), and administrative data sources (workforce, financing etc.). Operational research data is integrated into the analysis, particularly to explain why certain changes happen or do not happen. As with other Countdown research and analysis, the focus is on coverage and equity, but with considerable attention for drivers of change. Subnational analysis is prioritized where possible and relevant. The first workshop is scheduled for the last quarter of 2017.