Women's Health, Global Health Initiative, and Knowledge Management
May 28, 2011 marks the 24th International Day of Action for Women’s Health founded in 1987 by the Women's Global Network for Reproductive Rights (WGNRR), focusing on a topic that remains timely and important, particularly to us here at K4Health.
This week the Kaiser Family Foundation also hosted a briefing entitled “How is the U.S. Global Health Initiative Changing What Happens in the Field?,” featuring Lois Quam, the new executive director of GHI, experts working to implement GHI programs in the field, and health and development experts with diverse experience in both the private and public sectors.
As you can see in the preceding video, GHI’s latest executive director Quam spoke passionately about what she had learned in her first two months on the job. One of her key points was the need to build capacity in developing countries and tailor health and development programs to meet the needs of each country. “Action is always in the field; it’s always in the country,” Ms. Quam said. She explained that as public health experts it is our responsibility to pave the way by building sustainable and integrated capacity and working in collaboration with our partners in the field.
All of the presenters working in the field highlighted the new mandate for separate government agencies to communicate and collaborate as a significant benefit of the GHI. Dr. Mamadi Yilla, Senior Public Health Advisor for Sustainability and Integration with the Office of Global AIDS Coordinator, gave an example of a PEPFAR nursing education program in Malawi. Because of the GHI, PEPFAR staff communicated with staff from other agencies working in FP/RH and MNCH. They discovered that several agencies were working in nursing education, and there was significant duplication of effort. Communication among the agencies allowed them to collaborate, conserving resources and developing an initiative that was supported by multiple U.S. government agencies and owned by the Malawian Ministry of Health.
Mark Green, Senior Director of the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition, praised the GHI approach of doing what works and the usefulness of promoting proven approaches. He also stressed the importance of capturing the lessons learned from health programs in GHI plus countries and applying them to all countries.
Several of the points highlighted in the discussion reflect the need for knowledge management to advance the goals of the GHI. Building capacity, improving coordination between agencies, and sharing and building on what is already working are all knowledge management issues. K4Health eToolkits can be a useful resource to make information and tools more available to health professionals in the field, building their capacity, and allowing them to learn about and share both positive and negative experiences.
eToolkits can also facilitate coordination and communication between organizations with its collaborative publishing capability. Some of our latest toolkits are the Malawi HIV/AIDS, Go Girls!, and Healthy Timing and Spacing of Pregnancies (HTSP).