Explore the Access Accelerated interview series, where trailblazing leaders, visionary thinkers, and passionate advocates share their bold ideas and innovative approaches for the future of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs). These interviews are featured in the six year report, Key Lessons Advancing Access to NCD Care: Collaboration, Connectivity, Community, and offers fresh perspectives and incisive insights as we look to transform the future of access to NCD care.
As a strategic communications specialist, writer and editor, Emma Ross advises nonprofit organizations involved in medical research, public health and global health. She has written for and advised Chatham House’s program on strategy and communications since 2010. Before that, Emma was a long-time medical correspondent at the Associated Press, guiding the world’s largest news organization’s coverage of health news from Europe, Africa and Asia. In this feature, Emma shares her insights on the emergence of multisectoral partnerships in response to the rising challenges of NCDs and the need for harmonization and transparency in measuring their value.
THE SHIFT TOWARDS EFFECTIVE, SUSTAINABLE MULTISECTORAL PARTNERSHIPS
Expanding access to healthcare is a complex challenge requiring a whole-of-society approach, too large for either the public or the private sector to solve alone. In recent years, the appreciation and appetite for partnership and cooperation has deepened as the value of this approach has become more apparent. We’ve seen a shift away from siloed efforts toward cross-sector collaborations as a mechanism to address global health issues, especially the burden of noncommunicable diseases.
The emergence of multistakeholder cooperation across diverse sectors has brought a growing recognition that we need more sustainable ways of partnering if we are to effect long-lasting impact.
While the global health community has a good understanding of what’s needed, more progress on how best to execute this is needed.
THE BENEFITS AND LIMITATIONS OF COOPERATION
At their best, multisectoral collaborations leverage the strengths of the public, private and non-government sectors simultaneously. Together, they provide the enabling environment necessary to implement change, whether that be policy, regulatory, financial or operational.
Such cooperation in theory should balance the interests of participating sectors, ensure a workable method for sharing decision-making authority, and encourage accountability from all parties. In practice, however, we are lacking agreement and consensus on how to do this at scale. In part, this is because every partnership is different and must be adapted to the problem it attempts to solve. And in part it’s because we’ve had no concrete way of measuring collective impact. One of the main challenges in moving forward is developing a new science of evaluating collective efforts and harmonizing standards across diverse stakeholder groups. Everyone has their own way of doing things and their own interests to serve, which is naturally going to be a source of tension. The challenge is going to be meeting the demands and agendas of stakeholders and satisfying their divergent interests while at the same time continuing to incentivize collective action.
DRIVING INCENTIVE AND PARTICIPATION
It’s important to conceptualize and map out how harmonization efforts across all partners will contribute to reaching shared goals, and to articulate what value it will bring. Measuring the resulting efforts of collaborative partnerships requires agreement on metrics, indicators, and diligent reporting. We need to keep that burden to a minimum and prioritize what’s necessary to encourage participation. Most importantly, we need to be clear on the why, and have clear messages on the rationale and the benefits for doing it, for society at large, but also specifically for the partners investing their time, money, and effort.
The global healthcare community has a real opportunity not only to increase access to care for people living with NCDs, but to say “we’ve come together. We’ve agreed as a bloc on how to collaborate” and show others the way.
We need to keep the process of building a shared measurement framework as transparent as possible to ensure that it has credibility and weight. Openness and accountability among stakeholders will be key. The global health and NCD community can achieve extraordinary progress if we take a pragmatic approach to prioritizing actions, centering our motives, aligning on harmonization of standards, and promoting collective responsibility for NCD solutions.