By Jonathan Howard-Brand, Supply Specialist (Innovation)
So, a very productive week was spent with great colleagues, and now team members, at the UNICEF Country Office (CO) of Ethiopia in January. I was joined in Addis by Hayalnesh Tarekegn, or Bissie for short, from UNICEF Programme Division to work closely with the CO Health Section to get the wheels in motion for the first field trails of the ARIDA devices in Ethiopia.
A small team was assembled including Agazi and Mariame from the Health Section to meet with key stakeholders in the country for design and plan the field trails. Head of the Health Section, Macoura Oulare, has been key to communicating upwards within the CO as well as to the Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH). This has helped ensure the all-important buy in and relevant agreements to be in place meaning the rolling out the field trails will be smooth sailing, although I am sure there will be some challenges… Two key meetings were with the UNICEF implementing partners for areas where we plan to hold our field trials, and these meetings helped us understand how to plan our data collection and further collaborate to get the important feedback on the usefulness, suitability, accuracy and acceptability of the ARIDA devices in the hands of the Community Health Extension Workers (CHEW). Additionally we met with Solomon from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to learn of their work in this space and to get input to our project.
After a lot of meetings, strong Ethiopian coffee and hard work we have a put together a high level plan and action points to achieve what is needed to roll out the field trial. These include:
- Develop the field trail protocol as soon as possible with the relevant stakeholders giving input.
- Involve the FMOH Ethics boards earlier to ensure that bottlenecks are not discovered.
- Investigate current supply chain issues with access to amoxicillin DT in areas where the field trials will happen.
- Utilize the existing networks of implementing partners to gain efficiencies in data collection, training in the use of the ARIDA devices and ensuring necessary logistics including drug supply are available at time of the study.
- Investigate how to work with local universities in the scale up monitoring and evaluation of potential scale up.
- Investigate baseline data on care seeking behavior and any accelerators needed to get a representative response on use and large enough to make meaning full data analysis.
Next steps for the project, and there are many include:
- Contracting a company to develop the field trial protocol and ideals open source it to provide transparency on what we are trying to achieve.
- Contracting the company to also conduct the field trials.
- Offer contracts to suppliers of the ARIDA devices and have an updated timeline for product availability
- Conclude the first three countries for further field trials focusing on scalability particularly efficiency.
- Start planning for scale.
Of course this is all subject to change and things are changing all the time, so watch this space for the latest on goings in relation to the ARIDA project here http://www.unicef.org/innovation/innovation_81722.html