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Cross River, USAID-RTI Act-East Unveil Insights From Fund Flow Analysis Study to End NTDs in Nigeria 

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 Cross River state government in collaboration with USAID’s Act to End Neglected Tropical Diseases / East (Act/East) program and Results for Development (R4D) have successfully completed a groundbreaking Fund Flow Analysis study to end Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) in the state and Nigeria at large. 

The study’s findings which was shared during a formal dissemination workshop held in Calabar yesterday  brought together key stakeholders committed to enhancing healthcare and combating NTDs in the state.

The Fund Flow Analysis study led by the Lead Researcher, Dr Arowola Ayoola and conducted in partnership with the Cross River State Ministry of Health Planning Research and Statistics team marks a pivotal moment in optimising resource allocation within Cross River State’s health sector with focus on strengthening the government’s ownership of the NTD programme, offer vital insights to inform evidence-based decision-making in allocating funds earmarked for eliminating NTDs.

The Lead Researcher who emphasised the significance of the study said “it is an honour to have led this study on the Fund Flow Analysis study in partnership with the teams from the Cross River State, Ministry of Health, USAID’s Act East program and Results for Development. 

“The findings from this study are paramount in guiding evidence-based decision-making and optimizing resource allocation in the fight against Neglected Tropical Diseases. Understanding how financial resources flow within our health system is critical for strengthening government ownership of NTD programs and ensuring that limited funds are utilized effectively. 

“Through this study, we aim to pave the way for a more sustainable and equitable approach to eradicating NTDs, ultimately improving the health and well-being of the people of Cross River State and Nigeria as a whole.”

He noted that NTDs have adversely affected underserved and marginalized communities in Cross River State adding that collaboration with USAID’s Act East program has been instrumental in combating these diseases and supporting the state’s healthcare efforts.

Director of Planning, Research & Statistics at the Ministry of Health, Mr. Casmir Ubgong said “the findings from this study will undoubtedly pave the way for more effective allocation of resources, enhanced government ownership of NTD programmes and a renewed commitment to eliminate these diseases from our state. We extend our heartfelt gratitude to USAID’s Act | East Program and Results for Development (R4D) for their unwavering support and funding, which mode this research possible.

His sentiments were echoed by Chief of Party of USAID’s Act East Program, Dr. Wangeci Thuo, who noted “USAID’s Act) East has been a proud partner of the Cross River State Ministry of Health NTD Department for more than six years.

 “Together, we have seen 10 local government areas achieve the goal of stopping treatment for Lymphatic filariasis and another 15 LGAs make progress towards elimination of onchocerciasis. 

Thuo said the Fund Flow report is a blueprint for how the Ministry can ensure that once elimination is reached, these diseases do not come back.”

According to her, “the study unearthed several key findings that shed light on the current funding landscape and resource allocation practices in Cross River State.

The budgeting process in Cross River state is guided by laid down policy priorities determined by the executive council through the state budget office. However NTD programmes are captured in the state’s strategic health plans but have not received state government funding in the past three years reviewed (2018-2021)” .

She attributed lack of funding for NTD programmes in the state to low prioritization from key stakeholders and heavy reliance on donor funding adding that NTD programmes in the State have been predominantly donor-driven, with USAID’s Act | East program and Evidence Action being major supporters.

Based on the study’s findings, the workshop recommended an increase the proportion of the state capital health budget allocated to Neglected Tropical Diseases. Capacity building for NTD personnel and high-level stakeholder engagement and advocacy are essential to prioritize NTDs in the state’s health focus

The study also recommended engagement in strategic advocacy to key stakeholders, including health ministry executives, legislators, and executive council members, to mobilize domestic funding for NTD programs at the state and federal levels

The dissemination workshop participants actively discussed these recommendations and emphasized the need for collaborative efforts in implementing these strategies for better resource management and improved health outcomes. Cross River State looks forward to incorporating the study’s insights into its health policies and strategies, ensuring a sustainable approach to combating NTDs and fostering the overall well-being of its communities.

Results for Development (RAD), a key partner in this groundbreaking study, also commended the collaborative effort and the potential impact it will have on health system strengthening. 

A senior programme officer from R4D, Edward Owino stated, “We are proud to have provided technical support and research expertise for this important Fund Flow Analysis study. The results presented during the dissemination workshop have the potential to transform health prioritization and resource management in Cross River State, creating a more inclusive and impactful approach to tackling Neglected Tropical Diseases. 

“We commend the dedication of Cross River State and all stakeholders involved in this endeavor, and we look forward to continuing our support in advancing sustainable health financing,” he concluded

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