More than often, local social determinants of health are hidden, or just being overlooked by the funders, institutional researchers and health systems, hence slowing or reducing the program implementation and impact. In addition scores of the physical constraints that impede the regular and effective delivery of health interventions to those who need them are much more pronounced in Low-to-Middle-Income Countries (LMIC) than in resource-rich countries(1)
Bridging the research divide between obligations of donors, researchers and field actors is of paramount importance in the fight against diseases, especially malaria in Africa. This pandemic is often caught in a vicious circle, often being both cause and consequence of poverty. The efforts will require new ways of working with program implementers whereby local communities in West Africa commit their own resources, along with the external resources.
However, recent trends have shown a slow reduction in malaria mortality rate in in Africa in general, and the region in particular, (2), despite this reduction, death rates remain high in countries such as Nigeria, Burkina Faso and Niger, Mali a Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana (3), and Guinea prompting questions about weaknesses in the fight against malaria in these countries. An approach to identify these weaknesses, opportunities and the search for solutions to reduce this amenable mortality (a mortality is considered as amenable if it could have been avoided through optimal quality healthcare programs and technologies to all those who can benefit), will improve control, and bring these countries to the level of pre-elimination targets.
This study was designed to assess the current weaknesses and bottlenecks in the implementation of malaria control programs, implemented through the World Bank loan project granted to 3 countries (Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger) (4). However, we push forward our curiosity by expending our work and by administrating our survey to all the ECOWAS 15 countries (Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Cote d’Ivoire, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, and Togo). Doing so, we also envisioned South–South research collaboration, i.e. research collaboration between developing countries, in the region, that could emerge.
When identifying bottlenecks by implementing actors, the main objectives of our work were i) to guide these actors formulate research questions that could arise in regard to specific difficulties ii) when possible, to enable the project to finance research activities that could contribute to improve program and provide appropriate solutions toward elimination of malaria and neglected tropical diseases. Indeed, there are more and more evidence that the role of local knowledge-based organizations and players are “catalysts for ideas and in proposing practical solutions for implementation, governance and policy problems (5)”.