Steering Committee Advances Strategies for PEN-Plus Implementation

Members of the NCDI Poverty Network’s Steering Committee convened on 8 November for their ninth meeting.

The event included presentations on the progress of the Network’s initiatives from the co-secretariat teams based at Universidade Eduardo Mondlane and the Center for Integration Science in Global Health Equity. The Maputo co-secretariat is forming a Southern Africa Regional Advisory Committee, for example, and the Boston co-secretariat is recruiting for roles in partnership building, clinical advising, and monitoring and evaluation.

Co-secretariat members also noted that representatives from WHO/AFRO, WHO country offices, the WHO integrated service delivery unit, and the WHO health promotion team met in Ghana in July to discuss PEN-Plus implementation. In September, members of the High-Level Advisory Group met in New York City to discuss PEN-Plus expansion.

In addition, several members of the Boston co-secretariat offered phase-specific updates.

  • Phase I: Emmanuel Mensah, managing director of the Center for Integration Science, highlighted a two-day priority-setting workshop in the Democratic Republic of the Congo with the Ministry of Health. He also noted that Cameroon and Nigeria have incorporated patient voices into their reports. He added that the Network hosts learning workshops to educate national commission members on the analytical framework, the burden of disease, and priority setting for NCDs.

  • Phase II: Chantelle Boudreaux, associate director for integration research at the Center for Integration Science, provided an overview of three initiatives that partner countries are undertaking to implement priority health services: Ethiopia, Kenya, and Nepal are conducting care team assessments; Cameroon, Mozambique, and Nigeria are designing care teams for outpatient and emergency NCD care; and Ethiopia, Ghana, Nepal, and Tanzania are designing and integrating essential NCD interventions in national health systems.

  • Phase III: Emily Wroe, program director at the Center for Integration Science, reviewed the results of the midterm risk assessment and discussed the development of a document on PEN-Plus essential programmatic standards, which will be completed by the end of November.

  • Phase IV: Apoorva Gomber, associate director of advocacy at the Center for Integration Science, presented the Network’s advocacy goals for 2023–2025. She also detailed the Voices for PEN-Plus advocacy program launch and the Network’s legislative advocacy initiative. 

Among the many topics they tackled, Steering Committee members discussed the International Conference on PEN-Plus, which will be held in Dar es Salaam on April 23–25, 2024. Individual members offered several recommendations to guide the conference, including:

  • Focusing on coalition-building across the type 1 diabetes, sickle cell disease, and rheumatic and congenital heart disease communities;

  • Incorporating community engagement, retention, and social support strategies;

  • Facilitating the meaningful involvement of patient advocates and civil society representatives; and

  • Involving regional bodies such as the East, Central, and Southern African Health Community; the Southern African Development Community; and the Western African Health Organization.

Additionally, committee members agreed to increase communication with ministries of health in countries implementing PEN-Plus to enhance their policy-level commitments and program sustainability.