April 2013

  • K4Health Highlights

    Lisa Mwaikambo

    CCP | Co-Manager, Global Health eLearning

    Last week, I attended IntraHealth’s SwitchPoint 2013. It was an energizing event that brought together technologists, public health professionals, entrepreneurs, health workers, and artists to discuss innovations and partnerships for social change. I personally took away three key messages.

    1. Making is contextual

    Erik Hersman, a Nairobi-based technologist and blogger, opened the event with the statement “if it works in Africa, it will work elsewhere.” He shared the many creative solutions that can be found across the continent. Creativity and inventiveness are often by-products of having little. In Africa, if you can’t fix something, then you’re just stuck. You can’t just throw something away and buy a new version if something doesn’t work. You need to improvise, recycle, reuse, and find creative solutions.

    1. A solution is defined by its user

    Speaking of solutions, Josh Nesbit, CEO of Medic Mobile, challenged the technologists and reminded the public health folks in the audience that a solution is only a solution when it is used by the people for what they need. That is, once it solves a problem that the user is facing. Although technology offers all sorts of cool solutions, practical innovations are often low-tech as they must meet the needs of the end user without creating more problems for them.

    1. Trial and error is key

    Sometimes, the best solutions aren’t the high-tech or “sexy” ones. It’s critical to think about and, more importantly, collaborate with intended users to make sure that the solutions meet their needs. This process often requires a willingness among all parties to learn from trial and error. Assess the needs and what is currently be used or done to address the needs (if anything), develop a solution, monitor and learn from its implementation, and then reassess and refine or develop something else.

  • K4Health Highlights

    Becca Simon

    (Formerly) CCP | Communications Director

    This post, by Sylvia Vriesendorp, originally appeared on the Global Heatlh Knowledge Collaborative Blog. The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health Center for Communications Programs is the current chair organization of the Global Health Knowledge Collaborative and the implementer of K4Health, with FHI 360 and Management Sciences for Health. Sylvia Vriesendorp, the emcee of the Share Fair, led the nearly 200 participants through a highly interactive day. Every session was participatory, from the audience response system in the plenaries to the hands-on demonstrations in the Marketplace and roll-up-your-sleeves design of breakout sessions. It was mentioned more than once that this should become an annual event, and a volunteer overheard a participant say she had sneaked into the event even though it was full. 

    Share Fair Knowledge Wall

    Global Health Knowledge Management Share Fair: Challenges and Opportunities utilized graphic facilitation by The Value Web to capture the key points of conversations throughout the innovative, participatory one-day event.

    “What is important to you about KM and why?” was the first question that some 40 small groups discussed, sitting at paper-covered tables with colored markers that invited participants to doodle out loud. The papers and the host at each table captured their conversations, their questions, opinions and exclamation marks. Within seconds the room was abuzz, with energy, opinions, experiences and wisdom. Two graphic facilitators captured the essence of the conversation on a 24 by 8 foot mural that slowly filled over the next 6 hours.  

    Another round of the World Café tapped the nearly 200 people to find out what they were not seeing, where more clarity was needed or what was in the way of making Knowledge Management an integral part of interventions aimed at improving public health.

  • K4Health Highlights

    Becca Simon

    (Formerly) CCP | Communications Director

    On April 16, 2013, the Global Health Knowledge Collaborative hosted a one-day symposium for global health and knowledge management (KM) practitioners full of hands-on, interactive sessions to learn about innovative tools and techniques and share successes and lessons learned. Global Health Knowledge Management Share Fair: Challenges and Opportunities attracted nearly 200 people interested in the event’s objectives:

    • Learning about new KM tools, techniques, and approaches;
    • Agreeing on a shared definition of KM for global public health; and
    • Fostering a community of KM professionals.
    Share Fair Org Chart

    Global Health Knowledge Management Share Fair: Challenges and Opportunities audience responses to the question "Which category best describes your organization?"

    The Share Fair was participatory from the beginning. The day kicked off with audience response tool Poll Everywhere to see who was in the room. In real time, we learned that 24% of the people in the room were from the private sector, 16% were from NGOs, another 16% were from academia, and 13% were from USAID or another donor. This innovative tool allowed participants to quickly understand who they would be interacting with throughout the day.

    Setting the stage for the day, Stacey Young, Senior Learning Advisor for USAID’s Bureau of Policy, Planning and Learning, offered the donor perspective on KM, and asked the audience, "What can USAID and other donors do to support learning and KM for more effective health programs?" The answers ranged from rewarding sharing and experimentation to integrating KM interventions into health system strengthening projects. Below is a word cloud illustrating the frequency of words included in participants’ responses.

  • K4Health Highlights

    Jarret Cassaniti

    CCP | Program Officer

    Innovation is defined as a new idea, method, or device. Although I often think of innovations as successfully implemented ideas, the Merriam-Webster definition implies that innovations are also new ideas that fail. In global development, we have seen many innovations come and go and learned from them in the process. A few failed innovations that come to mind are TV programming in the 1960s, infant formula in the ‘70s and structural adjustment programs in the ‘80s.

    The Global Health and Innovations Conference was a celebration and exploration of innovation. It was also a place for our community to raise questions and for innovators to address their skeptics. Converting skeptics into believers isn’t easy, especially with international development’s history of mixed results.


    Family planning mobilizers speak to a client, Tope Olawuyi, during a visibility parade near Orolodo primary health centre in Omuaran township in Nigeria’s central state of Kwara.

    © 2012 Akintunde Akinleye/NURHI, Courtesy of Photoshare

    As one of the presenters delivering a social innovation pitch, I was expected to explain the evidence behind the innovation and why it was expected to succeed.

    I presented K4Health’s eLearning for continuing professional development (CPD) work in Nigeria at the Clinic Based Social Innovations Pitches session. My fellow presenters and I took five minutes to explain what we were doing, why it was innovative, and what we hoped it would achieve. We each got five additional minutes to field questions and comments from the attendees who were happy to give us their impressions about the strengths of our ideas and where they saw gaps.

  • Health Innovations

    Sarah V. Harlan

    CCP | Learning Director

    I had the pleasure of attending IntraHealth International’s SwitchPoint Conference in Saxapahaw, North Carolina, last Friday and Saturday. Not only was it one of the most unique and fun conferences I have ever been to (complete with music, dance performances, and an on-stage DJ), but it also really got me thinking about new technology and real collaboration.

    The conference started off with presentations about exciting new technology: 3-D printing to regenerate organs, sustainable toilets, tech hubs in Africa, “hacking” every day materials (such as toys) to make medical devices, and using mobile phones to connect health workers. Then, the conference organizers talked about “SwitchPoints” that started at last year’s conference – partnerships that led to exciting work and brought about change. The point of these partnerships is to mix the creators of the technology with those who can use this technology to get services to people who need them the most, to help people live better, healthier lives. But how do these partnerships really happen? How does a “SwitchPoint” happen?