Screen Shot 2019-08-26 at 16.54.47.pngThe African Collaborative for Health Financing Solutions (ACS), the Health System Strengthening Accelerator (the Accelerator), and SPARC are testing a country engagement approach that adds value to traditional technical assistance by providing access to “coaches” and “mentors” who work alongside and support country stakeholders through processes to identify root causes of health system challenges, interpret and apply locally generated and global evidence, develop and implement solutions that are technically valid, feasible, and have the buy-in of stakeholders. Coaches and mentors are not the active doers of work and producers of technical outputs, instead, they support country individuals and institutions to achieve specific goals and gain capacity to routinely generate and implement solutions to address health system challenges.

Achieving better population health outcomes requires strong, self-sustaining health systems, but driving systems-level change in countries is hard — it’s a continual process that is context-driven and requires navigating complex political, economic and institutional landscapes. Countries and practitioners have often expressed the need for better access to experts who understand country contexts and have relatable experiences to help guide them through tough implementation challenges.

Nathaniel Otoo, former CEO of Ghana’s National Health Insurance Authority and current Executive Director of SPARC, provided coaching and mentoring support to the Expert Panel for the Repositioning of Kenya’s National Health Insurance Fund into a Strategic Purchaser of health from February to July 2019. Watch the video to learn more about SPARC’s approach to coaching and mentoring and how it was received in Kenya.

Over the past several months, SPARC has also collaborated with ACS and the Accelerator to create a set of orientation modules for technical experts who are interested in developing their coaching, mentoring, and facilitation skills and contribute their experience to building this approach.

The modules, which are designed to be a two-way learning experience, introduce the ‘coaching and mentoring’ approach and cover the following areas: process facilitation; knowledge translation; and strategic communications. The modules also share principles, approaches and practical tips for playing the roles of a coach, mentor, and facilitator that are drawn from real-life experiences.

As SPARC engages in more countries,the modules will be used to prepare our coaches, mentors and facilitators before connecting them to support country-led strategic health purchasing processes.