During the past month, the JLN’s 16 full member countries came together for the first time to elect a new and expanded Steering Group since its inception in 2013. The voting process across three continents reinforced the commitment of the JLN’s member countries and their shared vision for the network in its next phase.
The democratic process concluded successfully last week, reflecting the interests of JLN’s growing country membership base.
Five new full member countries were inducted to the JLN’s Steering Group: Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Mexico, Mongolia and South Korea, while Ghana, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Nigeria, Philippines and Vietnam will continue their existing participation.
Member commitment and collaboration: the forces that drive the JLN
Being a country-driven, country-led network, JLN’s Steering Group member countries have a central role to play. The two outgoing country members of the Steering Group, Kenya and Mali, exemplify the deep engagement of countries that is fueling the JLN and helping drive its mission forward.
Kenya joined the network in 2010 and stepped up its involvement by joining the Steering Group when it was formed in 2013. Since then, it has been an active contributor to the joint learning initiatives, as well as in taking the JLN to the next level in its UHC mission.
As a member on the Steering Group, Elkana Ong’uti, Kenya’s Senior Health Economist, Ministry of Health, helped shape JLN’s agenda and lay a framework for its governance, meeting the requirements of a rapidly growing network. Ong’uti brings health financing and policy expertise to the network, contributing to the global knowledge in these areas.
The country has also been engaged in co-developing practical solutions to extending health coverage to the poorest people, a challenge shared by many countries. Demonstrating thought leadership, Kenya hosted a JLN workshop in Mombasa in 2011, focused on sharing creative approaches and best practices on expanding health coverage.
Its members have co-authored several JLN knowledge products, available as global public goods, primarily in the areas of population coverage and Information Technology (IT).
Mali joined the JLN in 2011 as the first Francophone member, and took on a deeper commitment of being on the Steering Group when it came together in 2013. Over the years, the country’s participation has been marked with co-producing knowledge products, adapting solutions to its own context and giving direction to the JLN’s functioning.
The country was represented by Hamidou Bagayoko, Director, National Directorate of Social Protection and Solidarity Economy, and more recently, by Dr. Sissi Odile Dakouo Koné, Assistant National Director of Social Protection and Solidarity Economy. Under the leadership of Dr. Koné, Mali has helped the JLN put in place a governance framework that is transparent and will effectively serve the needs of all member countries. Further, Dr. Koné brings insights to global knowledge production on the challenges of social inclusiveness in health coverage and dealing with large informal sector.
Mali is working with other JLN countries in developing global solutions in the areas of population coverage, IT, and provider payment mechanisms. Its members have co-authored multiple knowledge products, including UHC Primary Health Care Self-Assessment Tool.
Cross-country collaboration brings countries a step closer to their goals
The JLN’s practitioner-to-practitioner learning approach thrives on cross-country collaboration. Kenya and Mali’s collaboration in developing IT solutions for healthcare affords a good example.
Kenya, with experience in IT solutions, shared best practices with Mali around mobile-based payment mechanisms; in turn, Mali has been exploring how to adapt Kenya’s approach to its own context.
In another example, Kenya has collaborated with Ghana’s National Health Insurance Scheme to jointly develop a common e-claims form. The countries are working toward developing a standard for e-claims and harmonizing their information systems.
Achieving UHC is a complex challenge with many interlinked dimensions – social, financial and institutional. The deep engagement of JLN’s members is enabling countries to navigate these challenges and innovate healthcare solutions responsive to their needs.