Conference Overview

The 2019 Global Health Practitioner Conference on May 6-9 in Bethesda, Maryland, USA welcomed 332 implementers, academics, donors, private sector, and other community health advocates from over 14 countries representing over 107 organizations to explore the dynamic and ever-evolving profile of partnerships existing between different stakeholders working to advance community health at various levels of policy and implementation. The conference also highlighted different innovations for community health work, from technology to methodologies and processes. The objectives were:

  • EXAMINE the successful elements that contribute to meaningful partnerships for results at the community, national, regional and global levels
  • SHARE innovative health models that can be scaled; determine how as a community we can address gaps in scaling up known evidence-based models
  • CATALYZE plans for consortium building, technical capacity building and strategic focus for improved community health, in a cross-sectoral manner

Agenda At-a-Glance

Session Presentations: Monday | Wednesday | Thursday

New Information Circuits | Poster Session

Speaker Bios

Program Booklet | Conference Report (upcoming!)

Opening & Keynote Address

09:00 AM – 10:30 AM

Sasha Fisher, Co-Founder and Executive Director, Spark MicroGrants

Sasha Fisher is the co-founder and executive director of Spark MicroGrants and part of the inaugural class of Obama Fellows. Spark supports emerging Governments and leading civil society to develop inclusive democratic processes across West, East Africa and beyond. Spark has developed a streamlined village planning process paired with a seed grant that equips families to drive local change, such as through launching a farm to improve food security or a school for the children. Since 2010 Spark has enabled over 200 villages across six countries to launch local initiatives, increase female and youth participation in civic life, and advocate to local government. 94% of Spark partner villages continue to meet and take action together. Sasha holds a BA from the University of Vermont in Studio Art and a self-designed major in Human Security; a paradigm for development that recognizes the rising legitimacy of non-state actors in securing basic human needs.

Session Recording


Concurrent Sessions

11:00 AM – 12:30 PM

Better Together: Advocacy and Partnerships to Strengthen Community Health

PRESENTERS: Crystal Lander, Living Goods; Mesfin Teklu Tessema, International Rescue Committee; Robert Newman, Aspen Management Partnership for Health (AMP Health); Lizah Masis, Financing Alliance for Health

Community health programs are critical to achieving Universal Health Care and prioritizing hard-to-reach populations. Community health programs need to be integrated in national health systems, financially sustainable and rooted in quality. Advocacy is key to sharing best practices and influencing policy commitments to ensure community health programs are included in national health strategies to increase access and provide services aligned to the population.

Effective advocacy is vital in sharing and scaling up innovative health models. The session aimed to increase understanding on tactics to influence policy makers at all levels to include integrated community health programs in national health plans. This campaign, launched by six partners, is working to generate high-level political will and commitment for including and prioritizing quality community health programs that are financially sustainable and integrated in national health systems as part of national and global UHC strategies.

Innovative, Community-based Strategies for Making Global Health and Development Programs More Inclusive of People with Disabilities

PRESENTERS: Leonard Mbonani, Kuhenza for the Children; Amberle Brown, World Relief; Jessica Charles, Kupenda for the Children; Holly Nelson, Special Hope Network | MODERATOR: Cynthia Bauer, Kupenda for the Children

Development organizations rarely implement strategies to ensure people impacted by disabilities benefit from their programs. People with disabilities have little access to healthcare, education, or legal protections. Lack of knowledge often leads to abuse, neglect and even murder of people with disabilities. The session highlighted Kupenda’s trainings to community leaders. This model, reviewed, documented and shared over the last 5 years is in use in Tanzania, Zambia and Sierra Leone. Evaluation from 118 participants showed they had given 436 advocacy talks reaching 55,100 community members with inclusion and care messages and counseled 654 people impacted by disability and referred 705 children with disabilities to special education or medical facilities. On average, each 1-day workshop equips 25 community leaders to sensitize community members about disability justice and benefit 625 children with disabilities. The session shared this model and discuss ways global health leaders can strategically include people with disabilities in their work. Participants were guided by and collaborate with disability advocates, receive copies of the training tools, and meet other development organizations that are piloting this model.

Building Partnerships to Provide Nurturing Care for Small and Sick Newborns and Their Families

PRESENTERS: Judith Robb-McCord, Every Preemie-SCALE, Project Concern International; Neena Khadka, USAID’s flagship Maternal & Child Survival Program, Save the Children; Renee Perez, USAID’s flagship Maternal & Child Survival Program, Save the Children | MODERATOR: Cori Mazzeo, USAID’s flagship Maternal & Child Survival Program, Save the Children

The session provided a roadmap to build partnerships across sectors and between programs/services, communities, and families to ensure that children can achieve their full potential. While all children benefit from early childhood development interventions, babies who are born too soon, too small, or who are sick arguably have the most to lose if they don’t receive critical health, nutrition, and development-related interventions. Caregivers of these babies are at higher risk of stress and depression, and often do not receive the necessary services and support to address their psychosocial well-being. The session shared the evidence for and current state of developmentally-supportive, family-centered care for small and sick newborns, as well as innovative tools and approaches that can enhance the quality of care and support provided to these babies and their families.  Through interactive activities, the session explored innovative packages for supporting the health and development of small and sick babies and the psycho social well-being of caregivers.

Presentation_Robb-McCord | Presentation_Perez | Presentation_Video | Presentation_Save the Children

Social Accountability: Measurements and Momentum

PRESENTERS: Allison Annette Foster, WI-HER; Eric Sarriot, Save the Children; Kristen Mallory, Children International; Ligia Paina, Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health; Beth Outterson, Independent

Gaps in monitoring and evaluating social accountability mechanisms challenge governments and local stakeholders in understanding how to strengthen and improve those mechanisms. Existing measurements fail to shed light on what makes a social accountability intervention successful or sustainable. The session re-oriented the discussion around factors and processes that facilitate or inhibit institutionalization and monitoring, evaluation, and learning questions. The session shared findings on how to identify the facilitating and inhibiting factors that enable effective SA interventions to expand and be institutionalized. The session focused on 1) how a successful intervention works, 2) why one intervention produces results that are more accepted by the communities and sustained beyond a single project and helps build local capacity, 3) understand common factors shared by country examples where SA processes have been integrated, 4) define the metrics that can best guide on-going research and monitoring.

Opportunities to Integrate and Optimize Community Health Workers in Health Systems: Global and Local Perspectives

PRESENTERS: Leah McManus, HRH2030 Program, Chemonics; Isaiah Ndong, Chemonics; Brian Rettman, HRH2030 Program, Chemonics; Halkeno Tura, Ethnic Minorities of Burma Resource and Advocacy Center (EMBARC) | MODERATOR: Rachel Deussom, HRH2030 Program, Chemonics

The WHO Guideline recommends professionalizing CHWs to improve health outcomes.  This session highlighting promising practices, global goods, and country results from the Human Resources for Health in 2030 (HRH2030) Program, and conducted a “mock debate” with expert practitioner perspectives. Discussants shared a vision for how to build, plan, manage, support and optimize the role of CHWs to strengthen health systems and improve health outcomes.  Topics included: Integrating quality CHW data into broader health information management and HRH information systems; Results from a landscape analysis on enhanced CHW supervision: Best practices to hold CHWs accountable for quality services; Community engagement for better community-led MCH services in Mali by using a quality improvement approach; Implementing a differentiated care model with CHWs for HIV services in Botswana: Using data for task/model shifting, facility linkages and policy dialogue; Adapting CHW models to specific communities, such as for refugee populations in the US, while considering community definitions, and cultural competencies for CHW selection.


Catalyst Sessions

4:00 PM – 5:30 PM

Innovative Financing Mechanisms and Effective Management of Risk for Partnerships in Global Health

PRESENTERS: So O’Neil, Mathematica; Scott Higgins, Merck for Mothers; Priya Sharma, USAID Center for Innovation and Impact; Marcie Cook, Population Services International; Marissa Leffler, UBS Optimus Foundation; Shree Prabhakaran, Palladium| MODERATOR: Christine Sow, Palladium

Development impact bonds (DIBs) leverage private investor capital to address some of the world’s greatest challenges while entirely focusing on the achievement of verifiable and measurable outcomes. In Rajasthan, Palladium is implementing one of the first DIBs focusing on maternal and newborn survival by improving the quality of labor and delivery care in up to 440 private sector health facilities. The DIB is also among the first launched using genuine private capital raised from private investors, raising the bar in terms of a real-world application of an approach that had previously only been executed in laboratory conditions with soft capital. This DIB serves as a proof of concept for risk-based public private partnerships and lays the ground work for the uptake of private sector quality regulation by the Government of Rajasthan, an avenue to sustainability currently under discussion and negotiation. This session presented Palladium’s learnings and invited presentations from other innovative health partnerships. The session used a mini-workshop approach to allow participants hands-on experience addressing real-life challenges of financing models such as the DIB.

The Role of Gender and Religion in Social Behavior Communication in Muslim Societies

PRESENTERS: Samuel Usman, CORE Group Polio Project Nigeria; Ahmed Arale, CORE Group Polio Project Horn of Africa (Kenya and Somalia); Rina Dey, CORE Group Polio Project India | MODERATORS: Lee Losey and Lydia Bologna, CORE Group Polio Project

Religion is often a powerful influence in Muslim societies in India, the Horn of Africa and Northern Nigeria. How can we harness cultural norms to design more effective programs in Muslim societies?  We will cover how to achieve female- to-female interpersonal communication in societies that limit male/female interactions when potential female social mobilizers are not allowed to work outside the home.  This session explored methods of identifying and engaging key community decision makers to achieve greater impact. Do elder women such as grandmothers and mother in laws guide decisions on health-seeking behavior?  Do fathers play a significant role, religious leaders, elders, or community leaders?  Understanding these dynamics has the potential to drive stronger program design. How do you change opponents into proponents? The session discussed several examples to educate and motivate fathers to support mothers, the use of religious leaders and female-male teams of vaccinators to improve vaccine coverage.

Multisectoral Partnerships and Innovations for Early Childhood Development (ECD)

PRESENTERS: Joy Noel Baumgartner, Duke University Evidence Lab; Maureen Black, RTI International; Mohammed Ali, Catholic Relief Services; Chessa Lutter, RTI International; Erin Milner, USAID| MODERATOR: Cristina Bisson, RTI International

The session explored the elements of ECD outlined by the Nurturing Care Framework and three key elements for successful programming:  multi -sectoral partnerships, measuring children’s development, and synergies with child nutrition.  Topics include: partnerships for evaluating integrated ECD programming in Ghana, Kenya, Cameroon related to maternal mental health and child health; the trajectory of measurement for children’s development, including children with disabilities and application of the innovative D-score: a global measure of early childhood development and thinking behind the Lancet framework. The session highlighted Ghana’s challenges in implementing integrated ECD interventions in complex environment (household food security, health, education) and share innovative strategies being tested to improve MNCH and ECD in rural northern Ghana. This session focused on how ECD is influenced not only by what young children are fed but also by how they are fed: complementary foods that are rich in nutrients important for brain development and responsive feeding. The session shared the insiders view of ongoing and future collaborative achievements across nutrition, health, education, for ECD and children with disabilities and what this means for implementation.

Do This, Not That: Surfacing Lessons for Social Accountability Design from Evaluations that Show No Health Impacts

PRESENTERS: Preston Whitt, Results for Development | MODERATOR: Courtney Tolmie, Results for Development

This session started from a place that many sessions do not – results that show social accountability and citizen participation do not have an impact on health outcomes.  In an interactive format, the session aimed to understand what global health practitioners, donors, and researchers can learn from an approach that failed to improve community health.  First, the session examined unsuccessful elements of the Transparency for Development (T4D) program’s specific partnerships for community health, while revealing qualitative findings that suggest partnership approaches that may work better.  Second, it discussed how deliberate work to co-design a health-focused social accountability program that is both strategic and scalable ultimately led to a design that did not show impact; by unpacking the evidence that highlighted where scale and impact may have counteracted each other with workshop participants, we will surface design ideas that would make these two goals (scale and impact) not work in opposition.  Finally, the session explored how diverse partners (including practitioners, donors, and researchers) can better co-create to support each partner’s goals.

Artificial Intelligence and eLearning in Humanitarian Health

PRESENTERS: Donald H. Bauman, Jr, Isabel Healthcare, Inc.; Colleen Gallagher Thomas, Relief International; Lara Ho; International Rescue Committee| MODERATOR: Mike OBrien, Relief International

Artificial Intelligence and eLearning, is there a future for them in Humanitarian Health? On-line and cloud-based systems may no longer be novel approaches in health development programs, but there are unique challenges to using them in humanitarian programs. To discuss, Relief International presented the Isabel DDX, a cloud based, AI, digital diagnosis platform created and managed by Isabel Healthcare. Used in major US health systems, the Isabel DDX is being piloted in humanitarian programs by RI in Cox’s Bazaar, Bangladesh. IRC presented on their e-learning platform courses directed to responders inside of Syria who may not have access to training because of insecurity and movement restrictions. The interactive online platform can be used on any kind of device, with content developed by the IRC technical teams initially for use by IRC staff and partners inside Syria but planned to be made available to the wider humanitarian community. There are 75 different courses that include videos and pre/post-tests to assess performance. We have had over 1,000 users total with more than 5,000 courses completed.

Presentation_Bauman | Presentation_McLain