Despite recent successes in countries such as Togo and Ghana, which achieved World Health Organization validation of elimination of lymphatic filariasis (in Togo, 2017) and trachoma (in Ghana, 2018), neglected tropical disease (NTD) control and elimination remain largely absent from national health plans and budgets—and those of other sectors—in most West African nations. As national Neglected Tropical Disease Programs (NTDP) work toward achieving programmatic sustainability, one of the challenges they face is to convince national decision-makers to make domestic investment in NTD control a national priority. To support the NTDPs in these efforts, USAID’s Act to End Neglected Tropical Diseases program (Act | West) provides assistance to countries in the use of TIPAC, a tool for integrated planning and costing developed with funding from USAID’s NTD Program.
The Tool for Integrated Planning and Costing (TIPAC) helps countries to accurately identify the costs and funding gaps in their NTDPs. It acts as a central tool that lets NTDPs input diverse data sets—budgetary information, population statistics, and up-to-date NTD drug donations, among others—which are used to identify financial gaps in NTD programming, opportunities for integration and inefficiencies such as overlap or duplication of efforts. NTDPs can use the results to inform and guide annual work plans, drug applications, donor coordination efforts, and advocacy and fundraising strategies.
This past spring, Act | West facilitated TIPAC workshops in Togo and Ghana. Both countries had previous experience entering data into TIPAC with USAID’s END in Africa project, which like Act | West, was managed by FHI 360. Deloitte, an Act | West consortium partner, led refresher courses using the tool and additionally developed NTDP staff capacity to fully utilize TIPAC for program management.
TIPAC in Togo
In Togo, Deloitte conducted a data entry workshop in mid-February, and then returned in late March to introduce best practices in data management, analysis, and translation. During the first session, Togo’s NTDP worked diligently to transfer over 20 diverse datasets into TIPAC. As the staff cross-referenced financial, public health, and demographic sources, they also brainstormed on how to transform these numbers into direct messages for current stakeholders and new audiences. In the process, Togo’s NTDP staff developed skills to better manage multiple program budgets, which is a core component of increasing the team’s capacity to organize and implement day-to-day operations. Their increased understanding will help the NTDP improve overall coordination of NTD control and elimination with the country’s larger health systems.
Four weeks later, Deloitte returned to Togo to teach NTDP staff how to generate data visualizations from TIPAC, including automated bar charts, tables, and 5-year financial projections driven by the data that they had inputted during the initial session in February. The graphs and charts not only uncovered critical financial gaps that had plagued the NTDP for years, they also provided a clear picture of upcoming challenges using TIPAC’s forecasting capabilities. This information provided tangible materials and talking-points that NTDP staff can build upon in strategic planning discussions with Ministry of Health decision-makers and other emerging strategic partners.
TIPAC in Ghana
Togo was not the only Act | West country to make strides in leveraging TIPAC data in 2019. In March, Deloitte held a data entry refresher workshop with Ghana’s NTDP and Act | West partners World Vision and AIM Initiative. Given Ghana’s recent experience (2016–2018) in successfully leveraging TIPAC to engage the country’s private sector to invest in NTD programming, the Act | West team collaborated with workshop participants to pinpoint how TIPAC data can be used to integrate NTD core functions into national health and education policies. Representatives from the Strategic Social Partnership (SSP) unit in the Policy, Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation (PPME) Division of Ghana Health Services also participated in these conversations. The dialogue comes at a time when Ghana’s NTDP is both building its capacity in data management and generating critical materials as well as actively collaborating with other governmental bodies and stakeholders in this process. Through the NTDP’s involvement of multiple players, the country will be in a better position to collect, report, and analyze its NTD progress. This integration will help the government to mobilize sufficient domestic funding to support future NTD programming. With exciting dialogues among diverse participants underway, the Act | West team is now supporting Ghana in maintaining strong communication flows across the government and dispersing new TIPAC insights to deliver data-driven solutions for future programming.
Next Steps and the Future of TIPAC
As national NTDPs continue to build their capacity in managing data and translating findings into action, the Act | West team will continue to help countries link data to their larger public health planning, financing, delivery, and monitoring systems. The completion of TIPAC workshops in other Act | West countries will be crucial for future work around NTDP sustainability and will help lay the groundwork for sustainable financing.