Since its inception in 2002 the NETCELL Project has played a key role in supporting the National Malaria Control Programme (NMCP) of the Tanzanian Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, by managing the National Insecticide Treated Net (NATNETS) Programme. Over 200 million dollars of international donor funding for malaria prevention have been leveraged for the MoHSW in the past decade, and the NATNETS programme has been hailed as a success, nationally and internationally. Over 28 million Insecticide Treated Nets have been distributed during two mass campaigns in 2009-2011, and over 8 million insecticide treated nets have been sold through the Tanzania National Voucher Scheme. As a result, Tanzania has seen a 48% decline in all-cause mortality in children under the age of five between 2000 to 2010. So far, more than 60,000 child deaths have been averted as a direct result of NATNETS. If the current decline in under-five mortality rate continues at the same rate, Tanzania is very likely to achieve MDG 4 by 2015, one of the few major African countries to do so.
Building on the successes of the previous phases, and learning from the lessons of the external evaluation of NETCELL in 2011, the focus of the project in the past year has seen three key changes: 1) a move from executive management of programmes, to a focus on technical advice and strategic support; 2) an extension of technical support activities to malaria case management; and 3) a strong emphasis on capacity building within NMCP. The latter has been the biggest challenge due to insufficient appointment of new government staff to NMCP. However, senior government commitment to malaria control is strong and growing, and there is a clear recognition of the organisational and human resource gaps at the NMCP.
The proposed Phase 5 of NETCELL will carry forward these changes and focus on achieving three outcomes:
- The ITN Cell and the Case Management Unit function effectively and efficiently and harmonize all donors active in this field in an aligned way.
- The ownership of the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare for the ITN and case management components is enhanced and the human and administrative capacity of NMCP is substantially strengthened
- The Tanzanian experience on process and impact of the past and upcoming activities within NATNETS and the case management component are presented in the relevant forums nationally and internationally
Project implementation strategies will focus on two technical areas: 1) supporting NMCP to develop and effectively manage the new ITN Keep-Up Strategy of school net distribution, to ensure that high ownership and use of ITNs is maintained over time; and (2) applying the substantial experience from NATNETS to assist NMCP to improve malaria case management, including the forecasting, funding and procurement of key antimalarial drugs and diagnostics, and their successful introduction. Underlying these strategies is a strong capacity building and mentoring component in order to ensure sustainability of the efforts and continuity of results.
This Phase 5 of five years will tackle an enlarged scope of support, while at the same time deepen its structural impact and ensure sustainability of the Swiss inputs. The target group of the project remains all Tanzanians suffering from the burden of malaria disease particularly those in rural areas, the poorest, and those in the highest risk groups (pregnant women and children).