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Communicating through Partnership. A good idea BUT does it work in practice?. Background to AHRTAG. Formed in 1977 Recognised for newsletters Practical, accurate and relevant Excellent distribution Sophisticated feedback mechanisms. Information Dissemination Model.

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communicating through partnership
Communicating through Partnership

A good idea


does it work in practice?

background to ahrtag
Background to AHRTAG
  • Formed in 1977
  • Recognised for newsletters
  • Practical, accurate and relevant
  • Excellent distribution
  • Sophisticated feedback mechanisms

Information Dissemination Model

Feedback on needs and information gaps

Healthlink staff have expertise in health themes and management of information

Healthlink produces and distributes accurate, relevant and practical newsletters

Improved health worker practice

Improved health in the community

Health workers better informed

Healthlink Resource Centre serves as a model to others

Local Resource Centres established based on Healthlink model

Contact with other agencies with relevant expertise

Click for larger picture

  • Is Western ‘expertise’ relevant?
  • Are ‘messages’ always appropriate/needed?
  • Are newsletters the best way of communicating?
  • Is information the main constraint to improved practice?
  • Are resource centres accessible to health workers?
  • Is health worker performance the main determinant of community health?
learning from experience 1
Learning from Experience (1)
  • Evaluation of Child Health Dialogue 1998
  • Evaluation of Health Action 1998
  • Evaluation of AIDS Action 1998
  • Evaluation of resource centre project with KANCO 1997
  • Evaluation of Middle East Programme 1996
learning from experience 2
Learning from Experience (2)
  • Importance of network of international contacts and feedback from various levels
  • Value of newsletters as resource for training
  • Strong call for more locally-tailored content and decentralised production
  • Continued need for print media
  • Role for partners beyond translation only
  • Northern informational input may undermine Southern capacity development
  • Healthlink’s role to be support and capacity building
positive examples
Positive Examples
  • Middle East Programme - no international newsletter. Focus on training of resource centre staff, university course in primary health care and in-country production of materials and health information systems
  • A Brazilian partner (ABIA) working on HIV/AIDS produced a lot of their own materials including photographs, descriptions of local experiences and lists of local support services

Communicating through Partnership Model

Links with international agencies

Supportive state policies


Resources made available

Healthlink staff are skilled in capacity building

Increased capacity of Southern partners

Varied Communications

Improved health worker practice

Improved health in the community

Network of partners

Work with other development workers e.g. HIV/AIDS, disability

Feedback identified needs and gaps

Work with other sectors e.g. education

Click for larger picture

is this all spin
Is this all spin?
  • Changing funding environment
  • Lower priority given to print media
  • Difficult to get funding for newsletters
  • Is this because of greater emphasis on electronic media?
  • Difficulties of demonstrating impact?
  • Failure to link print to other programmes, e.g. training?
all change
All change...
  • Major restructure in April 2000
  • Cessation of international newsletters
  • Merger of London resource centre with CICH to form Source
  • Abolition of thematic, vertical programmes
  • Formation of regionalised partner support team
  • Greater emphasis on electronic media
  • Shift from ‘message delivery’ to ‘giving voice’
focus on
Focus on...
  • ‘Source’ material - Reuters-like approach
  • Signposting
  • Reversed coffee filter
reversed coffee filter
Reversed ‘coffee filter’

Click for larger picture

experience to date 1
Experience to date (1)
  • Allowed difficult questions to be asked
  • Required key symbols of the organisation to be questioned, e.g newsletters
  • Established ways of working within Healthlink and partners
  • Need to build understanding and confidence of staff members
experience to date 2
Experience to date (2)
  • ‘Locked into’ funding agreements
  • Lack of unrestricted funding, e.g. for partner to participate in this meeting
  • Pressure from funders for short-term ‘products’
  • UK costs of capacity building perceived ‘expensive’
experience to date 3
Experience to date (3)
  • Identified other sources for support for staff development, e.g. Investors in People
  • Doesn’t suit all partners - consider starting capacity
  • Attracted other new partners, e.g. SAfAIDS
experience to date 4
Experience to date (4)
  • Affects selection of new partners
  • Some partners, e.g. HAIN have found it harder than expected
  • Greater need for skills sharing
  • Tensions involved with partners driving project design more
  • Allows more scope for interaction with international agencies, e.g. WHO IMD
experience to date 5
Experience to date (5)
  • Many partners have responded positively, e.g. KANCO seeking to recruit new staff
  • Key difficulty - moving beyond description to analysis and principle identification
  • Importance of linking information materials with other activities, e.g. training
  • Importance of learning and reflection, monitoring and evaluation, feedback mechanisms
new funded projects
New funded projects
  • Strengthening HIV/AIDS care initiatives in Latin America and the Caribbean (2001)
  • Strengthening civil society in Palestine (2001)
  • Information for mental health: Influencing policy and practice (Palestine) (2001)
  • Strengthening voice of vulnerable groups in India (2002)

It is a good idea

It does work


It’s hard work and quite a struggle