West and Central Africa Regional Network Initiative
The Francophone West and Central Africa Region (WCA) includes, respectively, 9 and 6 countries with a quarter of Africa’s population (128 and 126 million); Anglophone West Africa adds another 222 million. Child and maternal mortality rates in WCA are the highest in the world, considerably higher than in the other sub-regions of Africa. Emergency and conflicts have disproportionally affected WCA including DR Congo, Central African Republic and Chad in Central Africa, and Mali, Liberia, Guinea, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone.
RMNCH data to support policy and program development are available, mostly from surveys, and there is increasing demand for RMNCH analyses. However, institutional capacity for analysis is limited in almost all countries and few actors are working on evidence generation and capacity strengthening in the region. To address this gap, Countdown is establishing a regional consortium of research or statistical institutions and Ministries of Health with the goals of:
- 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.
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 first quarter of 2018.