Leadership development to improve cervical cancer prevention and care
Named after the Kiswahili word for “the way”, NJIA is a leadership development programme in Tanzania aimed at raising awareness of cervical cancer.
Tanzania, India, Uganda
Preventing cervical cancer through leadership development
To combat cervical cancer
Named after the Kiswahili word for “the way”, NJIA is a leadership development programme in Tanzania aimed at preventing cervical cancer. Tanzania has the highest reported number of cervical cancer cases, which is the most common cause of cancer in women aged between 15 and 44, resulting in the death of nearly 7,000 women every year.*
To address this, Roche, with their partner Pepal, initiated the NJIA Leadership Development Programme in Tanzania’s Kagera region (higher incidence of cervical cancer) in 2015. The programme aims to develop solutions collaboratively to develop leadership capacities and drive innovation in the face of situational and resource constraints, increasing disease awareness and access to screening and treatment. The programme draws on partnerships between companies, the ministry of health, NGOs and academic institutions to train local health leaders. Additionally, Roche has supported governments to integrate best practices from the NJIA programme into strategic plans at state and national levels. For example, leadership development is now a strategic objective in Tanzania’s updated national strategic plan for cervical cancer prevention and control for the next five years.
Governments integrate best practices from the NJIA programme into strategic plans at state and national levels.
In 2019, NJIA was expanded to India, where more women die from cervical cancer than in any other country. Approximately 96,000 new cases and 60,000 deaths (a quarter of the global total) are registered here each year.** NJIA works in Uttar Pradesh state, where 15% of the deaths occur.
The twofold role of NJIA
NJIA has two distinct components: leadership skill development and cross-sector innovation. Roche joins government employees and officials, NGOs and local health stakeholders and other corporate peers in cohorts of 30. Each is put through a leadership experience that helps drive innovation in resource-constrained settings. Solving urgent challenges on the ground, participants enhance agility, strengthen inclusive behaviours, identify root causes of cervical cancer issues, apply problem-solving processes and create “early wins” in cervical cancer prevention solution testing, leveraging peer-to-peer networks.
NJIA presence in three countries
Currently running in three countries, Tanzania, Uganda and India, NJIA is a scaled-up initiative which aims to create engagement across cultures and sectors making measurable differences. In Tanzania, NJIA-trained health workers have screened nearly 7,000 women for cervical cancer since 2015, which indicates an increase of at least an average of 519% compared to the five years before the program started, with 288 treated for pre-cancerous lesions. In the Kagera region, 1,371 women have been vaccinated against the related HPV virus. In India, awareness materials have been distributed to more than 8,000 people, and four gynaecologists are now trained to perform low-cost screening. One district hospital in India has seen a 6% rise in screenings over three months. NJIA has also been instrumental in promoting a government-led screening campaign, and materials for community health workers are enabling communities to see impacts of the disease and understand why screening is needed.