In support of USAID Kenya/East Africa’s Regional Development Cooperative Strategy, K4Health works to improve effectiveness and efficiency of Knowledge Management (KM) within intergovernmental and regional bodies in East, Central and Southern Africa to enable scale-up of sustainable solutions to priority health systems challenges. Our vision for East Africa is a community of regional and national institutions that use knowledge management products and approaches in a strategic, systematic, and unified way, to improve delivery of quality healthcare in East Africa.
"Knowledge management does not just catalyze the adoption of best practices, positive insights and experiences, but also strengthens the formation of strategic alliances and cohesiveness among experts, organizations and governments within this region, thereby promoting African owned and led initiatives."
Grace Miheso, Regional RMNCH/FP Specialist, USAID/KEA
In close coordination with partners, K4Health seeks to develop KM products and approaches to strengthen knowledge sharing among the countries and stakeholders throughout the region. K4Health has worked with four regional intergovernmental organizations:
- Lake Victoria Basin Commission (LVBC)
- East Africa Health Research Commission (EAHRC)
- East Africa Community Health Secretariat (EAC)
- East, Central, and Southern Africa Health Community (ECSA-HC)
K4Health uses four key approaches to strengthen the use of knowledge management in the region: Capacity Strengthening, Regional Events, Publishing, and Digital Health.
The ability of any institution to effectively and efficiently implement KM interventions depends on the skill set of its employees. For this reason, K4Health approaches all work with a focus on strengthening the KM capacity of individuals and institutions, and creating an environment that supports KM. K4Health works in close collaboration with staff from partner organizations, building their ability and commitment to become KM champions while developing KM products and events. With an eye toward sustainability, K4Health assists regional institutions to develop strategies, plans, procedures and systems to institutionalize knowledge management.
"As a regional organization that facilitates knowledge generation and exchange, we are well placed to serve as a knowledge hub for our members states."
Professor Yoswa Dambisya, Director General ECSA-HC
One strategy for building KM capacity is to integrate project staff with KM expertise into national and regional organizations. These long term secondments facilitate sustainable skills transfer and can address workforce shortages and skills gaps, while fostering close relationships and routine support. Secondments have the potential to help institutionalize KM approaches.
K4Health has also worked closely with ECSA-HC and LVBC to develop KM strategies to facilitate capacity building. These strategies serve as roadmaps for institutionalizing KM – addressing specific gaps identified through knowledge needs assessments, defining KM systems, products and responsibilities, and tracking activities, outputs and milestones. K4Health’s approach to KM strategy development is based on a systematic Process.” This process starts with a needs assessment, a concise definition of the target audience, and the development of achievable and measureable objectives.
K4Health has conducted a series of trainings and workshops designed to meet organizational needs of our partners and improve staff capacity to use of a variety of KM approaches including:
- Communities of practice
- Journal writing
- Social media
- Knowledge synthesis
- Editorial boards
- Internet searches
- Google Analytics
Additional skills building has focused on collecting real-time feedback at conferences and assessing organizational KM capacity. These trainings and skills building sessions complement daily support provided by seconded staff.
To assist regional institutions to secure funding for their strategic plans, and KM plans in particular, K4Health has facilitated resource mobilization workshops with ECSA-HC and LVBC.
Lead trainers at Management Sciences for Health use the HC3/MSH Resource Mobilization Implementation Kit to coach staff from ECSA and LVBC to draft actionable resource mobilization plans based on the organizations’ own strategic plans.
A Share Fair is a popular technique for catalyzing knowledge sharing and learning. It uses face-to-face participatory techniques to engage a group in conversation around implementation methods that have been effective in their work.
K4Health held a Knowledge Management Share Fair in April 2016 in Arusha, Tanzania. It brought together over 100 health professionals from 14 countries including staff members from ECSA-HC, EAC, and LVBC, as well as stakeholders at USAID missions, WHO country offices, and implementing partners. The main objectives of the Share Fair were to: 1) demonstrate KM tools and approaches, 2) build local KM capacity and leadership, and 3) foster a community/network of practitioners who work at the intersection of global health and KM in East, Central, and Southern Africa.
In addition to ten blog posts from attendees, outputs from the Fair included a revised guide on holding share fairs and an evaluation report focusing on social interaction (add when finalized).
K4Health played a coordinating role in the Africa Regional Meeting on Digital Health for Overcoming Barriers to Ending Preventable Child and Maternal Deaths and Achieving Universal Health Coverage, held in Malawi from May 12-15, 2015. The Meeting hosted 167 registered participants, including 25 representatives from ministries of health and ten from private companies. A follow-up summit is being planned for late 2017.
K4Health has worked with EAHRC to develop a journal focused on research conducted in and relevant to East Africa. The EAHRC Journal is no-fee, open-access, and peer-reviewed. The first edition was published with six original articles and two commentaries. The journal was established with a 21 member editorial board.
“The EAHRJ will promote and facilitate the application of knowledge from research to strengthen national and regional health policy and practice.”
Editor‐in-Chief Gibson Kibiki, MD, MMed, PhD Executive Secretary, East African Health Research Commission launching EAHRJ at the EAC’s 6th Health and Scientific Conference in March 2017
K4Health has supported the development of a digital health monitoring and evaluation application based on the open source Kobo Collect software for LVBC’s Population Health and Environment (PHE) Programme. The app allows for the quick development of forms, the ability to collect data through a variety of devices, and easy analysis and management of data. The app will enable LVBC to better use data for decision making and advocacy.