Seven-Nation ECHO Telementoring Project to Support COVID-19 Response in West Africa
Videoconferencing with Project ECHO
Ciheb in Nigeria is helping support a multi-nation telementoring project that will better equip healthcare workers to respond to increasing COVID-19 demands in remote locations. The project is supported by a consortium that includes the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency, Project ECHO at the University of New Mexico, as well as Ciheb and the governments of six participating countries.
Called the West Africa Regional ECHO (WARE) project, the initiative will reach facilities in Cameroon, Liberia, Senegal, Ghana, Guinea, Sierra Leone, as well as Nigeria. The initiative is centered on the Extension for Community Health Outcomes (ECHO) system created by researchers at the University of New Mexico to provide consults, monitoring, and mentorship through digital means. WARE will provide timely training to healthcare providers on COVID-19, including on topics such as surveillance, diagnosis, management, and mitigation.
The Nigeria WARE project launched on February 10 with a virtual event that brought together numerous stakeholders and included a keynote address from Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, the director general of NCDC. (The full video from the virtual event can be viewed at the bottom of this page.)
"Thank you to all our sister agencies and the regional body. I need to give WAHO credit first, the West African Health Organization. After all, this is a regional program today. Colleagues and sister agencies, Ministries of Health, colleagues at the United States Center for Disease Control for all your support in helping set this up, but also thanks to UMB, ECHO India, and the University of New Mexico, and all our partners with whom we are collaborating and putting this together."
—NCDC Director General Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu
Regional and National Hub System
Nigeria was chosen as the regional hub due to its prior experience with ECHO. Ciheb was a key partner in these efforts and from 2017-2020, Ciheb helped implement a national ECHO platform to provide support from CDC and the Federal Ministry of Health to 350 sites. Also, early in the COVID-19 pandemic, Nigeria used ECHO for national trainings for healthcare workers and vaccinations.
ECHO operates by linking centers of excellence, known as hubs, to healthcare workers at individual facilities, known as spokes. It links specialists at the hubs with practitioners at the spokes to create “communities of practice” in underserved areas. For WARE, the NCDC in Abuja, Nigeria will serve as the regional hub with national hubs in the seven participating countries.
In a video conference, Ciheb in Nigeria introduced case-based surveillance (CBS) and its implementation in the country to more than 130 health facilities and about 800 participants. This presentation taught facility healthcare workers about CBS and how it is used to facilitate individual-level monitoring for the HIV epidemic, as well as to demonstrate the role each facility plays in the national implementation. Read more.
“We’re coordinating and helping out other countries to set up sub-hubs in selected countries,” said Henriatta Selle Tiri, a monitoring and evaluation specialist with Ciheb. “They want to use the knowledge we have in ECHO, so we’ll be able to provide that support.”
To assist Nigeria’s neighboring countries, Ciheb is supporting the assembly of experts and development of the curriculum and tools for setting up the ECHO hub sites.