Reflections on the Joint Learning Network from its Founding Members

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Earlier this month, I was invited to deliver a keynote speech at the International Forum for Universal Health Coverage, which was organized by the South Korean Health Insurance and Review Service. I spoke about the work of the Joint Learning Network and the efforts of its members to ensure health for all.

I have been a part of the network since its very beginnings, helping to create the structure that we all benefit from today. In my talk earlier this month, I highlighted what I believe is the most unique and admirable characteristic of the network: the commitment of its members. The Joint Learning Network process is almost always the same: We reflect on our own situation, identify common challenges, learn about each other’s systems and international best practice. We then start the hard work to synthesize the information to knowledge products – manuals and tools – building on the rich experiences our members from different countries. This process builds an unparalleled level of trust and commitment among those in the network. People feel they are in a safe room with colleagues struggling with similar challenges in other countries.

The Joint Learning Network process is hard work, it is not a study visit where you passively listen to someone who has done great things. This is about reflecting, internalizing and working together – working together within the network, and then working together back in each member’s respective country to translate the lessons to local contexts.

Historically, most of the work in the network has been focused on challenges in low and middle income countries. We now see increasing numbers of high income countries joining the network. I strongly believe the Joint Learning Network can benefit all countries, not just to share experiences, but also to learn and get support to constantly improve the healthcare systems.

Everyone that is part of the network is a changemaker. What does it take to be effective? What do the most effective leaders have in common? It boils down to communication. How we communicate and how we change our communication depending on who we communicate with.

Recently, my colleagues at ACCESS Health International had the opportunity to speak with a few members about what the Joint Learning Network means to them. I invite you to watch those videos:

Dr. Arifah Biniti Abdul Rahim, Principal Assistant Director of the Unit for National Health Financing, Planning Division within the Malaysia Ministry of Health.

Evalyne Khamasi, Senior Planning Officer, Strategy, Policy, and Projects at the Kenya National Hospital Insurance Fund.

As the videos above show, we in the Joint Learning Network are not only focused on the how and the what, we also focus on the WHY. Why we do what we do, and why we work toward change. We explore these ideas within our own countries and with our partners in the network. Together, through these efforts, we are able to drive change in our healthcare systems.