The first ECOWAS Forum on Good Practices in Health was launched with a pre-Forum workshop on July 28, 2015, that introduced tools and approaches that public health practitioners can use to systematically scale up effective practices.
The workshop was held by the West African Health Organization (WAHO) in collaboration with the USAID-funded Leadership, Management & Governance (LMG) and Evidence to Action (E2A) projects, the World Health Organization, and the IBP Initiative. Jhpiego/Maternal and Child Survival Program, Marie Stopes International, and the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) contributed case studies from Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Togo. Ministry of Health officials from across West Africa attended, as well as technical experts from many partner organizations and WAHO. More than 100 participants joined the workshop to learn about scale up tools and approaches.
“This is a great opportunity to hold a day on fostering change for scaling up good practices and how to introduce systematic approaches for scaling up in the WAHO region,” said Salwa Bitar, E2A’s senior advisor for scale-up, during welcome remarks. “We hope the effect will be synergistic to the coming three days of the WAHO Forum on Good Practices in Health.”
Despite the commitment of governments, donors, and implementing partners to improving health outcomes in the West Africa region, many promising practices and programs have not been scaled to reach a majority of the population that need them, and many pilot projects have not advanced beyond the pilot stage.
“An array of good practices and projects in pilot phases for maternal, newborn and child health exist in our region, but they remain largely unknown by the wider public,” said Dr. Xavier Crespin, WAHO Director General, who joined to give welcoming remarks. “This workshop is an opportunity for us to showcase what we are capable of.” He emphasized that good practices should be identified and disseminated so that ECOWAS countries can adopt them and scale them up to improve the health of their populations.
The workshop featured a panel discussion where panelists shared success stories about scaling up in Liberia, Mali, Niger, Senegal, and Togo; and a knowledge café that featured tools for advocacy and costing and provided information on high-impact practices.
During the afternoon, participants broke into groups to analyze the three case studies on pilot interventions showcasing good practices in maternal and neonatal health, family planning, sexual and reproductive health, and youth family planning. Participants learned about key components of the scale-up process by applying the IBP Initiative’s Guide to Fostering Change principles of change and the CORRECT model from ExpandNet’s Nine Steps for Developing a Scaling-up Strategy.
At the end of the day, participants shared their key takeaways from the day, among which was the message Suzanne Reier (WHO, IBP Secretariat) shared at the opening of the workshop, when she introduced the importance of systematic scale up approaches: “don’t leave change to chance!” Many attendees said they would assess the good practices featured during the three-day Forum against the CORRECT model, to better gauge their readiness for scale up. Participants also identified actions they would take upon return to their countries to support scale-up of effective practices and programs. Those actions included:
- Gauging existing pilot interventions against the principles of change to determine readiness for scale-up;
- Reviewing projects that have been scaled up to determine gaps using lessons learned from the workshop and forum;
- Using the Guide for Fostering Change and Nine Steps for Developing a Scaling-up Strategy to further explore opportunities for scaling up existing interventions;
- Sharing information with colleagues to push for innovative and effective actions; and
- Holding advocacy meetings with partners on good practices that can be scaled.
The pre-Forum workshop set the stage for the first ECOWAS Forum on Good Practices in Health by providing a framework to assess approaches for systematic scale-up of successful interventions in order to reach more beneficiaries and to institutionalize good practices, thereby making the interventions more sustainable.