MEASURE Evaluation Leadership Development Program Enhances Cooperation on HIV & AIDS Data in Cote d’Ivoire

Leadership Development Project Team-Adzope in Adzopé, Côte d'Ivoire. {Photo credit: MSH.}Photo credit: MSH.

Gathering and analyzing data, and using that data for decision making, remain essential to delivering health services that meet the needs of the population.  In collaboration with its partners in the MEASURE Evaluation Phase III (MEval-III) project led by the University of North Carolina, MSH provides the leadership and organization development support necessary for monitoring and evaluation (M&E) teams world-wide to develop and sustain strong M&E systems. 

MEval-III's recently released mid-project report highlights examples of how MEval–III has supported monitoring and evaluation (M&E) teams worldwide to promote better data use in planning, policy-making, and monitoring and evaluation of population, health and nutrition programs to ultimately improve health outcomes. One example from the report demonstrates impressive progress made in coordinating national HIV/AIDS data collection and use in Cote d'Ivoire.

At the end of 2009, UNAIDS estimated HIV prevalence rate in Cote d’Ivoire at 3.9% in adults ages 15-49 making it one of the country’s most affected in the West African region.  A lack of collaboration among the four ministries engaged in collecting HIV & AIDS data – the Ministries of Health, HIV/AIDS, Women, and Social Services and Education – has hindered data collection and sharing efforts. The last national AIDS Indicator Survey was completed in 2005 and has not been completed since then due to a lack of agreement and coordination among the reporting ministries.

To support the collection and sharing of national AIDS data, the local MEval-III office worked with the four ministries to identify the primary obstacle to collaboration and decide on a plan of action to address it. They determined that a lack of leadership skills was at the root of the issue, and called upon MSH to provide leadership development assistance. A Leadership Development Program (LDP) was planned and launched in February 2010 and included teams from all four ministries.

The specific challenge that the local office expressed was: How can we be successful supporting the development of national HIV & AIDS data when the four ministries primarily responsible for collecting and reporting this data cannot/will not collaborate with each other to achieve this result?

Up to this point, it had been difficult to gather representatives from all four ministries in one place, but the immediate success of this program was illustrated not only by the attendance of the M&E teams from all four ministries, but also by the shared vision created by the participants in the first workshop of the program:

By 2013 the organizations responsible for monitoring and evaluation in the four ministries collaborate and produce high quality information that is available, accessible, and used by all of the actors involved in the fight against HIV in Cote d’Ivoire.

Over the next eight months the program united the various ministry teams into a single team that worked together to meet their desired measurable result, which was to produce a compendium of harmonized HIV & AIDS indicators. The team rose to the challenge and, on October 6, 2010, presented its results – the published copy of the compendium.  

They accomplished this task by overcoming a multitude of challenges including political issues, a shortage of funding, extensive time demands, and logistics issues. They focused on key leadership and management practices, specifically demonstrating leadership through aligning and mobilizing stakeholders and funders.  They implemented effective management by planning and organizing two large workshops.  

Two ministries had an issue of collaboration due to the terms of their governing documents. The Ministry of HIV/AIDS is charged with collecting the data, but the funding for its activities comes through the Ministry of Health.  In order to move forward, the two ministries had to agree and collaborate, despite some initial resistance at the political levels.  

MEval-II plans to work with individual ministries to expand their leadership and management capabilities throughout regional M&E offices.

This is just one example of how MSH's MEval–III team has supported M&E teams worldwide to develop the leadership and management skills and organizational structures that lead to  notable improvements in the efficacy and sustainability of M&E systems. These efforts promote better data use in planning, policy-making, managing, and monitoring and evaluation of population, health and nutrition programs to ultimately improve health outcomes.