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REFLECTIONS: NEST360 program gears up for next phase

Oct. 13, 2023 9:00
REFLECTIONS: NEST360 program gears up for next phase
Dr Salha Omar, Pediatrician at Temeke Referral Hospital, presenting their work. Photo credit: Ifakara KMC

The Newborn Essential Solutions and Technologies (NEST360) program conducted a reflective tour of its initiatives, with the goal of reducing neonatal mortality rates, as they chart a path forward for the next program’s phase - Phase 2. 

On October 12-13, during a two-day visit, Drs. Hema Magge and Lidiya Tefera, Senior Program Officers from the Gates Foundation's Newborn Health Maternal, Newborn, and Child Health Team, assessed the on-site progress of the project.

The delegation comprised members of the NEST team, representatives from the President's Office - Regional Administration and Local Government (PO-RALG), along with officials from the Ministry of Health. The visit was led by the Program’s Country Lead Dr. Honorati Masanja, Country Liaison Catherine Paul, Dr. Nahya Salim (NEST360 Clinical Lead), and Donat Shamba (Program Coordinator for NEST360 at Ifakara).  

Site visits

The visit commenced with a detailed exploration of healthcare facilities in Dar es Salaam supported by NEST360, including Temeke Regional Referral Hospital, Mwananyamala Regional Referral Hospital, Mbagala Rangi Tatu Hospital, and Buza Health Centre.

Across these facilities, a common theme emerged in the discussions, emphasizing collaboration, shared responsibility, and a steadfast commitment to improving patient monitoring and saving newborn lives in Tanzanian Hospitals and beyond.

National achievements and plans 

Naomi Chamhene, representing the MoH discussed the current state of neonatal care in Tanzania, highlighting achievements resulting from collaboration between MoH, Ifakara and NEST360. These achievements include expanding Neonatal Care Units (NCUs), infrastructure improvements, capacity-building initiatives, and the establishment of a Neonatal national register. Looking forward to Phase 2, plans involve further NCU expansion, intensified capacity-building efforts, national guideline updates, and wider distribution of the Neonatal Register to more regions.

On behalf of PO-RALG, Dr. Yahya Hussein expressed gratitude for the support so far and suggested strengthening collaboration for the country’s national plans, for even greater impact. 

Tanzania’s vision for phase 2 

Country Liaison, Catherine Paul, initiated the team's discussion regarding Tanzania's vision for Phase 2. She shared key insights that have shaped Phase 2's data-driven vision, highlighted existing gaps, and highlighted the opportunities available for greater impact. Catherine also expressed gratitude for the diligent efforts of the "small but efficient" Tanzanian team.

Dr. Magge praised the success and identification of key needs in Phase 1, provided guidance on quality improvement, and expressed gratitude for the team's hard work and hospitality. She described Tanzania as an “exemplary country with significant impact”. 

NEST360 Country Lead and Ifakara Chief Executive Director, Dr. Honorati Masanja, expressed gratitude for the fruitful collaboration and reaffirmed Ifakara's commitment to reducing maternal mortality.

As the visit concluded, the discussions echoed the impactful progress NEST360 has made in Tanzania, exemplifying the profound difference that can be made through dedicated teamwork and the power of quality improvement in healthcare. With Phase 2 on the horizon, NEST360 is gearing up for an even more substantial impact, reaffirming its dedication to saving the lives of the most vulnerable in our society – our newborns.

Partner meet and greet

Dr. Miriam Kombe and Defa Wane from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Tanzania Mission, joined the team for a virtual meet and greet. During this pleasant introduction, they discussed the potential for collaboration, expressing their excitement about the NEST360 program and its promising impact.

About the NEST360 Program

The NEST360 program is a global initiative dedicated to reducing newborn deaths by 50% in hospitals. Currently, the program is being conducted in Tanzania, Kenya, Malawi, and Nigeria. The evidence-based model focuses on achieving sustainable health system change by addressing gaps in technology, markets, and human resources for quality hospital-based newborn care.

In Tanzania, the NEST360 program is implemented by Ifakara Health Institute and various partners. Working closely with the Ministry of Health, Phase I of the program commenced in late 2019 and is currently being implemented in seven hospitals within three regions in Tanzania. These regions include Dar es Salaam (Muhimbili National Hospital, Muhimbili Mloganzila, and Amana, Mwananyamala, and Temeke Regional Referral Hospitals), Kilimanjaro (Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Centre), and Mbeya (Mbeya Zonal and Referral Hospital).