‘Together is Better’ – recent research success for networking

""In March 2016 an exciting International Forum ‘Better Together’ took place in Dehradun, North India. Facilitated and coordinated by Dr Grills of the Nossal Institute, approximately 40 people from eight countries met together to develop improved collaboration, effective networking and translate the current research into effective practice.

This forum is part of research that Dr Grills is conducting through his NHMRC Fellowship, and centred on understanding the effectiveness of networks of non-state health service providers (NHSPs) in improving primary healthcare and strengthening health systems in the developing world. Community Health Global Network (CHGN), a partner in supporting network and cluster formation, co-sponsored the event and provided theoretical expertise.

Grills’s research on the case study of the Cluster in Uttarakhand, India has documented how networking enables NHSPs to help maximise primary health care quality and coverage and promote improved access to health.  These findings have informed the development of networks/clusters of NHSPs in Myanmar, Bangladesh, Kenya, Zambia, and Tanzania.  They work together to improve their integration with the health system and improve health care provision and services. Delegates from Tanzania provided information about how they are effectively working together to build stronger and more sustainable communities, and delegates from Zambia demonstrated that their network had led to improvements in access to water, sanitation and basic hygiene in their community.

The research presented, along with a guideline on networking and cluster formation and input from the field sites has inspired delegates from Thailand, Nepal and East India to start similar networks in their areas. Such networks in these new areas will facilitate the sharing of knowledge, improving access and coverage of health program and enabling better integration with the formal health care system.