Around the world, millions of people are at risk of illness or death from poor-quality medicines that do not appropriately prevent or treat devastating illnesses. Low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) are at especially high risk. While many governments commit some of their limited financial and human resources to address this problem, it can be difficult to determine which activities have the largest impact if relevant data are not tracked. These data are particularly important to have readily available when policy or regulatory decisions are being made.
Monitoring the effectiveness of programs can help provide the data needed to make informed decisions about investment priorities. Monitoring and evaluation (M&E) systems track progress on an ongoing basis so that policy or regulatory decisions can be made swiftly. Nigeria demonstrates how integrating M&E systems into programs can improve public health efficiency.
Promoting the Quality of Medicines (PQM), a program funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development and implemented by USP, collaborates with Nigeria’s regulators and manufacturers to help build stronger medicines quality control and quality assurance systems. PQM employs a systems-building, collaborative approach to ensure the quality of medicines in the market and expand the availability of quality-assured medicines. Helping regulatory agencies enhance their M&E capacity to track data to make informed decisions is integral to PQM’s efforts.
"This training is extremely useful to me personally and to my work in NAFDAC. Now I know the impact of data and I intend to maximize the benefit of it."
– NAFDAC Regulatory Officer & workshop participant
In March 2017, Nigeria took a major step forward in its efforts to incorporate M&E systems into program planning, in collaboration with PQM and Nigeria’s National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC). NAFDAC made a significant investment by sharing the cost of a first-of-its-kind, 3-day intensive workshop on M&E capacity building, which was attended by nearly 40 employees. Participants included NAFDAC staff working on medicines approvals, as well as those conducting quality control and surveillance of medicines on the market.
Attendees learned how to design a robust M&E system with appropriate data collection and data flow mechanisms to ensure the quality of the data. They also identified M&E priorities for their programs and demonstrated their abilities to use M&E data for program planning and improvement. The final session of the workshop focused on building skills to present data in ways that foster meaningful impact on decision-making.
Following the training, staff engaged in comprehensive self-audits of internal processes and identified gaps in NAFDAC’s M&E system. Afterwards, staff “deployed knowledge gained in developing an M&E plan to address identified gaps,” according to Yetunde Oni, the former Acting Director General of NAFDAC. The Agency also identified M&E champions, who now promote the use of data-driven evidence for decision-making related to medicines quality assurance. The training, she said, could not have come at a better time, as the Agency is implementing its new Strategic Plan (2016–2020).