The Joint Learning Network for Universal Health Coverage (JLN) joined the USAID Health Finance and Governance Project (HFG) on Thursday, September 22nd to discuss how they are jointly supporting countries on the path to universal health coverage (UHC), with a spotlight on the experience of Ghana. Mr. Nathaniel Otoo, Chief Executive, National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA), Ghana, and former Convener of the JLN Steering Group, called the JLN “a new approach to development,” highlighting that the network had provided practical solutions to Ghana’s health systems major challenges, like how to expand population coverage and how to improve quality services.
What Are the Benefits of The JLN?
Mr. Otoo discussed how collaboration between the JLN and HFG has helped to put the JLN’s co-developed knowledge products to action in Ghana. He stated, “It’s not so much the collaboration or coexisting between JLN and HFG but it’s the fact that countries co-develop knowledge and it becomes the pillar on which other development is constructed”
. He described how Ghana had used the Open Health Data Dictionary
, which JLN countries had co-developed. He also cited other JLN tools that had been applied in Ghana, including the Costing of Health Services for Provider Payment: A Practical Manual
and the Primary Health Care-UHC Self-Assessment Tool
. As a founding member of the JLN, Ghana has been instrumental in cultivating a tight knit global community of practitioners and policymakers and useful country discussion groups to help address and tackle shared health system challenges.
Since joining the JLN in 2010, Ghana has continually embraced the joint learning approach as a core component of its operational structure. Dr. Lydia Dsane Selby, Director of Claims Management, NHIA, Ghana, described the value of the JLN, noting “the network’s ability to articulate challenges and create a unique opportunity and forum to lay our challenges down, relate with others, and solve.” She described what JLN participation at the country-level looks like and the structure of the country core group (CCG), highlighting the collaboration between the Ministry of Health of Ghana, the NHIA, and other actors within the health sector.
In Ghana, JLN and HFG collaboration has been instrumental in providing flexible, timely and relevant support. Chris Lovelace, the Director of Strategy and Quality of HFG, expressed that one of the major strengths of collaboration between the JLN and HFG has been in identifying the demand of multiple countries and developing responsive follow-up. He shared several specific examples of the JLN and HFG’s partnership at global, regional, and country-levels. These include a global learning exchange on the governance and institutional arrangements for quality in the UHC context and an emerging partnership focused on public stewardship of the private sector.
What Are the Next Steps?
The Director of the JLN Network Coordinator, Amanda Folsom, highlighted two strategic priorities for the JLN, firstly to increase the number of technical collaboratives to meet growing demands of the recently expanded membership and second, to focus on strengthening the JLN’s country infrastructure, the CCGs. In addition, she stated that through deep engagement from countries like Ghana, the JLN relies on strong country-led governance, which means that JLN activities are prioritized, shaped, led and co-facilitated by JLN member countries, and strong partnerships (such as the JLN-HFG collaboration) to respond to member demands.