Enabling cross-country learning and exchange to support universal health coverage implementation

JLN Network Manager

Health Policy and Planning, Volume 39, Issue Supplement_1, January 2024, Pages i125–i130,
Published: 23 January 2024


As countries transition from external assistance while pursuing ambitious plans to achieve universal health coverage (UHC), there is an increasing need to facilitate knowledge sharing and learning among them. Country-led and country-owned knowledge management is foundational to sustainable, more equitable external assistance for health and is a useful complement to more conventional capacity-building modalities provided under external assistance. In the context of external assistance, few initiatives use country-to-country sharing of practitioner experiences, and link learning to receiving guidance on how to adapt, apply and sustain policy changes. Dominant knowledge exchange processes are didactic, implicitly assuming static technical needs, and that practitioners in low- and middle-income countries require problem-specific, time-bound solutions. In reality, the technical challenges of achieving UHC and the group of policymakers involved continuously evolve. This paper aims to explore factors which are supportive of experience-based knowledge exchange between practitioners from diverse settings, drawing from the experience of the Joint Learning Network (JLN) for UHC—a global network of practitioners and policymakers sharing experiences about common challenges to develop and implement knowledge products supporting reforms for UHC—as an illustration of a peer-to-peer learning approach. This paper considers: (1) an analysis of JLN monitoring and evaluation data between 2020 and 2023 and (2) a qualitative inquiry to explore policymakers’ engagement with the JLN using semi-structured interviews (n = 14) with stakeholders from 10 countries. The JLN’s experience provides insights to factors that contribute to successful peer-to-peer learning approaches. JLN relies on engaging a network of practitioners with diverse experiences who organically identify and pursue a common learning agenda. Meaningful peer-to-peer learning requires dynamic, structured interactions, and alignment with windows of opportunity for implementation that enable rapid response to emerging and timely issues. Peer-to-peer learning can facilitate in-country knowledge sharing, learning and catalyse action at the institutional and health system levels.

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