The Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Lao PDR) Ministry of Health (MoH) and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) have jointly launched a Request for Proposals (RFP) for a grant to strengthen Lao PDR’s Public Health Emergency Operations Center (EOC) and use it to accelerate malaria elimination and prepare for future public health emergencies. The grant will be funded through the BMGF Global Health Programme. It is anticipated that the overall grant period will be for four years from 2018–2022 with a maximum budget of US$5 million. The selected grantee(s) will provide support primarily in the form of technical assistance to the Lao PDR MoH. The RFP guidelines, application templates, and reference documents have been posted on the BMGF website.
In the end game with polio, EOCs have proven effective at bringing together the types of skills needed from surveillance to analysis and rapid response. However, in many countries, EOCs are too often ad-hoc entities that cannot be staffed permanently while waiting for an epidemic/emergency to happen. BMGF is considering malaria elimination as a potential driver for this strengthening activity, as it would provide a day-to-day operational focus for the EOC while also ensuring optimal execution of malaria programme activities.
Lao PDR has made tremendous progress in reducing malaria burden and is on track to meet its targets for malaria elimination. From 2015 to 2017, the number of malaria cases fell by 74%, from 36,093 to 9,331. However, the last mile is most difficult and will require strengthening systems so that operational activities and strategic decisions are continuously informed by rapid analysis of high quality, granular surveillance and supply chain data. In this way, an EOC can provide a suitable framework for robust elimination activities and also act as an accountability platform under the direct oversight of MoH leadership.
The RFP process includes two stages: Stage 1 (the current stage) calls for submission of Concept Proposals from individual organizations or consortia. Concept proposals will be reviewed by Lao PDR MoH, BMGF and independent experts, and selected applicants will then be invited to complete a full proposal package (Stage 2).
Given the multifaceted nature of this work, proposals from consortia that leverage the experience and comparative advantage of multiple partners are encouraged. Organizations are required to register as applicants by submitting the Expression of Interest form by 5pm (PST) on August 10, 2018. A list of the registered organizations and their contact information will be circulated among the applicants who can reach out to each other for discussions before the RFP deadline. The completed application should be submitted by 11:59pm (PST) on September 2, 2018.
Photo credit: @Flickr_David McKelvey