Developing E-Networks for Improving Public Health Practice in Low and Middle Income Countries
Agency : Public health, Low and Middle income countries, Partnerships, Technology, Communities of practice
Objective : To develop a network of public health cadre and public health education institutions globally and engender cross-learning and develop a shared global resource across education, research, training and communication. To provide a platform that can enable researchers, practitioners, educators and policy-makers to link up and jointly address the challenges posed by low-performing health systems.
Background : Public health in most countries is at the crossroads, trying to provide expanded and equitable access to quality services. Collaboration at the global level is necessary to address the similar health challenges in the low and middle income countries such as insecurity, inequity, isolation, ignorance etc. The development of equitable, affordable and sustainable ‘technology mix’ to cater this need can be an asset in the time. Hence, the launch of Public health Global Network was initiated based on the concept of Virtual Community of Practice which is a network of individuals who share a domain of interest about which they communicate online. These "communities of practice," bring together geographically dispersed health workers who share common goals and face similar obstacles, yet rarely or never have the opportunity to collaborate in person.
Methodology : This was done by having a Technical Secretariat (6 Persons) to carry this initiative forward. Engagement was also ensured through a Knowledge Management Group- a team of advisory expertise from within PHFI, as well as an international advisory team from all over the world. The core team started with listing the potential public health experts all over the world and engaging them via mails and telephonic conversations. This was followed by visits to all the Institutes of public health to form the Knowledge management group.
Findings : An ongoing exchange of ideas and information through a continual dialogue between policymakers, practitioners, researchers, managers and others with a stake in public health allows for the development of effective strategies for the future while facing today’s health challenges. Online communities offer a relatively easy-to-use, inexpensive, and effective avenue to exchange information with colleagues around the world.
Recommendations : Structure of the discussion forums and Blogs should be Easy to use and closely aligned with the existing workplace practices with voluntary membership. The methodology, technology, and tools to host events and store the community’s knowledge should be such that the members are already familiar and comfortable with the medium. Work with potential members to help them determine not only what they can contribute, but also what they can expect in return. Seeking thought leaders and soliciting their opinions and inviting subject matter experts to speak/participate on a transitory basis. It is important to create a variety of forums where people can build and share knowledge.
To develop a network of public health cadre and public health education institutions globally and engender cross-learning