A Business Unusual Way of Sustaining a SBC Coordination Platform in Nasarawa State, Nigeria
Contributors: Olumide Adefioye, Oluwafemi Rotimi and Dr. Deborah Khah
Ishaya Amegwa is the State Health Educator at the Nasarawa State Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NAPHDA) in Nigeria. He plays a key role in the State’s social and behavior change (SBC) program with support from the State Ministry of Health.
Coordinating the State SBC program presented a challenge for Amegwa because the committee already set up for that purpose – the Social Mobilization Technical Committee (SOMTEC) – had become inactive. He explained:
The State social mobilization meetings went moribund after some time as it was not possible to hold such meetings without paying transport allowance even for participants within the capital city – Lafia.”
In addition, an SBC capacity assessment conducted by The Challenge Initiative (TCI) showed SOMTEC had no clearly defined Terms of Reference (ToR), limited capacity among its members and its operations skewed towards immunization programs. Meetings were held only when immunization campaigns were imminent. This dysfunctional state resulted in an uncoordinated approach to program implementation in the SBC space.
Using the SBC capacity assessment findings, TCI worked with the State to develop ToR that covered a wider spectrum and expanded membership beyond the health sector. Further, TCI engaged and advocated with stakeholders at the Ministry of Health and NAPHDA to fully reposition SOMTEC into a full-fledged SBC technical working group (TWG).
TCI’s advocacy also resulted in scrapping the transport payments for members attending the TWG meetings. This would not only drastically minimize the budget for the TWG meetings but also ensure sustainability. Despite initial concerns about the commitment of the TWG members, attendance and the level of participation were high at the inaugural meeting and subsequent meetings showed stakeholders are shifting to a new mindset to sustain SBC programming in the State. Amegwa noted:
Stakeholders now own the meeting and have developed a mindset change as every member contributes to the success of the SBC meeting. Instead of demanding transport fare allowance, they now make a conscious effort to sustain the SBC-TWG structure in the State.”
With this renewed energy and increased enthusiasm, members brainstormed and developed the following shared vision for the TWG:
A State where the practice of positive health behaviors is a social norm.
In demonstrating a commitment to support and coordinate SBC and social mobilization activities, members now seek opportunities to integrate activities from the State to the local government area and community levels with a focus on sustainable activities. This is in line with the objectives of the SBC TWG, which are to:
- Promote the health/wellbeing of the people of Nasarawa State through integrated, high-impact and sustainable SBC interventions.
- Facilitate an enabling environment for sustainability of high-impact SBC interventions in Nasarawa State.
Since the inauguration of SBC TWG, Nasarawa State has received coaching and mentoring to drive all state-led demand generation activities – from planning, implementing, monitoring and reporting – which they lacked the capacity to do in the past.
TCI’s partnership with Nasarawa State commenced in July 2020 to support the government in achieving greater self-reliance toward improved urban health systems and increased contraceptive uptake.