AFRICA – Seven African countries have been awarded for the significant progress that they have made in the digitalisation of national health programmes and enhanced data-driven decision-making to improve health services and outcomes.

The 7 Heads of State and Government received the inaugural ALMA Joyce Kafanabo Awards for Excellence and Innovation for advancing the digitalisation agenda for malaria, RMNCAH (reproductive, maternal, newborn, child, and adolescent health), and Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs).

President Umaro Sissoco Embaló, President of the Republic of Guinea Bissau and Chair of the African Leaders Malaria Alliance (ALMA) announced the winners at the sidelines of the African Union (AU) Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

The awards are named after Joyce Kafanabo, former Senior Director at ALMA, who passed away in January 2021.

Joyce was an outstanding leader, diplomat, visionary, and dedicated mother who was much-loved and held in the highest regard by colleagues, friends, government representatives, development partners, and the community.

Before her role at ALMA, Joyce served in the diplomatic service as Minister Plenipotentiary for the Permanent Mission of the United Republic of Tanzania to the UN.

“These awards are a fitting tribute to the legacy of Joyce Kafanabo and the impact she had on the fight against malaria and other diseases, and they serve as a testament to the progress that has been made and the potential for continued success in the fight against these diseases,” said His Excellency Umaro Sissoco Embaló, President of the Republic of Guinea Bissau and Chair of ALMA.

The Republic of Zambia won the award for best malaria scorecard tool, which it uses to generate and track actions through existing accountability mechanisms at national and sub-national levels.

The Republic of Kenya was recognized for the best RMNCAH (reproductive, maternal, newborn, child, and adolescent health) scorecard tool award.

Kenya has decentralized their RMNCAH scorecard down to county-level and shares the scorecard with key country partners at national, county, and health facility levels.

The Republic of Congo won the best neglected tropical disease scorecard tool award. The country has used the scorecard to enhance collaboration and coordination of national stakeholders, monitor the implementation of interventions, identify service bottlenecks and national priorities, and stimulate action.

The Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia was honoured for the best community scorecard tool, introduced in 55% of districts across the country, and has improved community engagement in health services.

The Republic of Rwanda won the award for best institutionalization of scorecard tools across malaria and RMNCAH.

The country has regularly taken innovative approaches to its scorecard use, including integrated malaria and NTDs scorecards and their RMNCAH scorecard.

The two scorecards are identified in the country’s strategic plan as key performance and management tools to track the progress of indicators.

The Republic of Ghana won the award for best innovative use of scorecard tools, becoming the first to include community-generated scorecard data in its health management information system.

The United Republic of Tanzania won the award for best innovative use of scorecard tools, including training MPs on scorecard use, translating scorecards into the local language, and developing a mobile app for scorecard data collection.

“Data-driven decision-making is crucial in the fight against malaria and other diseases, and these awards acknowledge and celebrate the significant progress that is being made,” said Dr. Corine Karema, CEO of the RBM Partnership to End Malaria.

To accelerate efforts to end malaria, Member States urgently need a fit-for-purpose surveillance system to provide the necessary intelligence to identify bottlenecks in malaria control and elimination activities, target interventions more efficiently and respond when the impact of malaria activities is jeopardised.”

The ALMA Scorecard for Accountability and Action tracks countries’ progress against priority malaria, RMNCAH, and NTDs indicators across the continent, with over 40 countries adopting national and sub-national scorecards.

The Excellence and Innovation awards recognise countries that have significantly strengthened their country scorecards through public sharing, capacity building at the sub-national level to enhance data-driven decision-making, and empowering citizens to improve health services and outcomes.

The awards committee assessed each country using the Scorecard Maturity assessment tool based on five criteria: management use, decentralisation, stakeholder sharing, institutionalisation and political use, and documentation and evaluation.

ALMA remains dedicated to supporting winners and all African countries in their efforts to improve health outcomes and empower citizens through data-driven decision-making.

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