22 years advancing health equity in Senegal

October 24, 2022 by PATH

Celebrating more than two decades of impactful partnership between PATH and the Ministry of Health.

Senegal street scene

A busy street outside a health center in Pikine, Senegal. PATH has been working side by side with the Ministry of Health for more than 20 years, making great progress against malaria and other health challenges. Photo: PATH/Gabe Bienczycki.

So much has changed since COVID-19 began—but even more has changed since 2001. That’s when PATH first began providing technical assistance in Senegal. Over the 20+ years since, we’ve continually evolved to better meet the needs of the people and government. Though our teams and approaches have changed, trust, partnership, and Senegal’s vision remain central to our shared success.

Today, PATH has 90 employees across the country working in more than a dozen health areas. Our office in Dakar now serves as a regional hub, coordinating projects in other West African countries, including The Gambia, Ghana, Mali, and Sierra Leone. And, to accelerate progress across all health areas in Senegal and West Africa, we’ve developed crosscutting expertise in human-centered design, climate change adaptation, digital and data systems, gender in health, and primary health care.

PATH is proud to partner with Senegal, and to further its efforts as a leader in public health. Here we take a moment to celebrate our ongoing impact in the country and across the region.

Our ongoing impact

At milestones like these, it is important to reflect upon and celebrate our successes. For PATH and Senegal, there have been many.

“We are so proud of our partnership with Senegal, and of all it has accomplished,” says Nanthalile Mugala, MD, MMeD, PATH’s Chief of the Africa Region. “From reducing the burden of malaria to strengthening supply chains and improving data use for decision-making…in every area we’ve partnered, we’ve made real progress.”

Controlling and eliminating malaria

PATH Senegal’s partnership now spans 15 active projects, but one of our first major efforts was the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation-funded Malaria Control and Elimination Partnership in Africa (MACEPA). In an exceptional display of leadership and trust, Senegal funded a portion of PATH’s malaria work in more than a decade of direct partnership. Together, our efforts contributed to significant reductions in malaria deaths—down 43 percent between 2009 and 2021—and strengthened health systems across the country.

Graph of impact of malaria interventions in Senegal

PATH's partnership with Senegal has contributed to major reductions in malaria deaths. Source: RBMME-PNLP

Today, we are using data-centered approaches paired with integrated surveillance systems to break the malaria transmission cycle between communities, reach those hardest to reach, and build systems capable of handling the unexpected. And, since malaria knows no borders, we’re also collaborating with neighboring countries, such as The Gambia, to ensure coordinated intervention deployment and harmonized data systems.

“From reducing the burden of malaria to strengthening supply chains and improving data use...in every area we've partnered, we've made real progress.”
— Dr. Nanthalile Mugala, Chief of Africa Region, PATH

Improving data use for decision-making

Data is essential to understanding health systems, making decisions about resource optimization, and strengthening health system practices across a variety of core functions. In Senegal, PATH strengthens systems to collect data, cultivates skills, and builds a culture of data use.

For example, Digital Square—which is funded by the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and housed at PATH—partnered with other stakeholders to investigate the potential benefit to low- and middle-income countries of advanced decision support systems. And, as a MACEPA implementing partner, PATH helped build a digital health information system that can pinpoint malaria hotspots and mobilize response. A similar system has been used to support COVID-19 case management and vaccination as well as part of our Global Health Security and Digital Square projects.

PATH is also a global evaluation partner for the Global Fund Prospective Country Evaluation in Senegal, where we use innovative approaches to generate timely feedback and recommendations for global and local stakeholders, like generating evidence to inform decisions around clinical tools such as pulse oximetry for childhood illnesses.

Advancing self-care

PATH has advanced self-care for sexual and reproductive health in Senegal through policy change, program coordination, and introduction of women-controlled products. In collaboration with the Ministry of Health, we’ve brought together partners from across sectors to ensure that women and girls have the information and tools they need to manage their health and well-being. This group of Self-Care Pioneers has developed Senegal’s first national guidelines for self-care. PATH also supports the scale-up of DMPA-SC, a self-injectable contraceptive that puts the power of protection in women’s hands.

Aminata Gaye, 29, (in pink) explains to Mossan Faye, 21, how to self-inject the contraceptive Sayana® Press at the Dominique Health Center in Pikine, Senegal. PATH/Gabe Bienczycki.

Aminata (left) explains to a patient how to self-inject the contraceptive Sayana® Press. Sexual and reproductive health is just one of many areas where PATH and Senegal are working together to improve public health. Photo: PATH/Gabe Bienczycki.

Pivoting to fight a pandemic

Through the multilateral Global Health Security Agenda and USAID’s Infectious Disease Detection and Surveillance program, PATH supports the Ministry of Health to strengthen national and subnational capacities to prevent, detect, respond to, and control infectious disease outbreaks. We have contributed to the development of a national emergency operations center (EOC) and a strategic plan for laboratories to strengthen biosafety and biosecurity capacity to improve disease surveillance and outbreak detection, including antimicrobial resistance.

Our existing relationships and experience—especially our work supporting the development of the EOC—positioned PATH to rapidly support Senegal’s COVID-19 response. We provided critical technical assistance to communities, health care providers, health system managers, and policymakers responding to the immediate disease threat, while protecting essential health services.

“When COVID-19 arrived, we were ready to meet the moment together.”
— Doudou Diop, IDDS Global Surveillance Lead, PATH

“The speed and effectiveness of our response is a testament to the level of coordination and trust between PATH and the Ministry of Health,” says Doudou Diop, PATH’s IDDS Global Surveillance Lead. “Over the last two decades, we’ve made critical progress against a host of challenges. When COVID-19 arrived, we were ready to meet the moment together.”

Though COVID-19 created many challenges, our shared response to it offered new opportunities for creating data systems, standardizing operating procedures for case management, supporting medical oxygen access, and mobilizing community champions.

“PATH is proud to support Senegal’s COVID-19 response,” says Aminatou Sar, Director of PATH’s Senegal Country Program and West Africa Hub. “It is our privilege to have partnered for so many years in so many health areas. Though our celebration has been delayed by a year due to COVID-19, we are excited to come together to celebrate what is now 21 years of shared progress.”

“Though our celebration has been delayed by a year due to COVID-19, we are excited to come together to celebrate what is now 21 years of shared progress.”
— Aminatou Sar, Director of Senegal Country Program, PATH

The celebration

On October 27, 2022, PATH will be joined by more than 100 invited guests from the government of Senegal, the private sector, community organizations, donors, national partners, international stakeholders, and the media. Together, we will celebrate 20+ years advancing health equity in Senegal.

Speakers—including Senegal’s Minister of Health, PATH’s Africa Region Chief (Dr. Nanthalile Mugala), PATH’s Senegal and West Africa Hub Director (Aminatou Sar), and representatives from the World Health Organization and USAID—will highlight the history of Senegal’s impactful partnership with PATH, and the ways in which we’ve contributed to improving the health of millions of people across the country and the region, and in areas of public health priority such as maternal, newborn, and child health; immunization; infectious diseases like HIV, tuberculosis, and malaria; noncommunicable diseases; global health security; and urban health.

We hope lessons from Senegal will encourage more governments to implement innovative public health solutions to meet the needs of all communities. And we look forward to our continued work serving the Senegalese people.