April 18th: speed-dating between Communities of Practices

Since the successful launch event of the Dutch Global Health Hub in October 2023, the Communities of Practice (CoPs) and their members have gotten to know each other better and better. To bring connections, knowledge and dynamics to work, the co-leads of the CoPs gathered on April 18th in Utrecht. Priorities were discussed during the warm and energetic co-lead meeting and new plans were presented.

Audience during a presentation.

The morning began with a warm welcome from Johanneke de Hoogh. After that, Daniël Brouwer from Impact Stewards moderated the presentations of the co-leads from three CoPs about where they currently stand. Firstly, Laura van Mil, working at Philips in the Access to Care team, gave a presentation on behalf of CoP 1 about strengthening global health architecture in national health systems. She emphasized the need for a multifaceted approach to improve healthcare efficiency, accountability, and sustainability, develop standards for digital health, discover innovative care opportunities, and influence the agenda of international health organizations. The goal is to create a community of individuals who share knowledge and insights, provide strategic guidance to ministries, and organize interventions such as roundtables and policy briefs. The expected outcomes include new policy developments and improved health systems, with the next steps being to form the group and coordinate the community to achieve these goals.

Secondly, Jaume Vidal from Health Action International spoke on behalf of CoP2 about the need for cooperation between different kinds of organizations, such as product-based organizations, sickness-related organizations, subject-based organizations such as Health Actions International, academics and researchers. Also, the follow-up of the outcomes of the World Local Production Forum we mentioned as a relevant topic for CoP 2.  Finally, it was emphasized that cooperation should stem not only from external ideas but also from the partners involved, particularly those from the Global South. This underscores the importance of inclusivity and listening to the needs and suggestions of all parties involved.

People standing around a flipboard.

Lastly, CoP3 provided further insights into their progress. Dr. Joyce Brown from UMCU and the Knowledge Centre Global Health, and Sie-meng Lee of the International Federation of Medical Students emphasized the importance of reducing the health sector's environmental footprint while upholding its standard of care. This challenge necessitates close collaboration among healthcare professionals, policymakers, and climate experts to devise innovative solutions that are both sustainable and efficacious. Another important aspect discussed was creating resilient health systems that can withstand the effects of climate change. By investing in infrastructure and building capacity, communities can better prepare for extreme weather events and other climate-related threats. Additionally, discussions centred on climate justice, underscoring the disproportionate impact of climate change on vulnerable communities. It is imperative to ensure that these communities receive the requisite support and resources to adapt and recover effectively

Following a needed caffeine break, ShareNet's Dorine Thomissen and Nicole Moran took the floor, sharing their valuable insights on ShareNet’s 25-year experience in community management. ShareNet works with over 39 CoPs in 25 countries and is an expert in the do’s and don’ts. Success factors of a CoP include commitment, structure, a common goal and a shared mission! Moreover, ShareNet addressed some common issues within CoPs and how to address these such as the importance of a dedicated chair and the organization of in-person meetings to increase ownership.

To bring our knowledge and products further, communication is key. Voxx, the ministry’s communications partner can help us with this and shortly introduced themselves, including valuable perspectives on how we can enhance our web content, a crucial step for our hub's outreach and impact. Additionally, a suggestion was made to establish a ‘Smoelenboek’ on the website, facilitating easy access for partners to connect through the Hub and identify contacts for specific expertise within the different CoPs. To streamline this process, a form has been distributed to gather relevant information, ensuring seamless communication among partners in the future. The day ended with closing remarks from Andrea Connell, looking back at a successful and positive day, filled with energy.

In summary, the recent gathering in Utrecht showcased the ongoing commitment of the CoPs to improving global health. We are looking forward to the next meetings of the CoPs this month and the months to come!