Some discussants, particularly from the BBC WST, brought up the persistent challenge of massive and fragmented learning’s and information that all partners gain through their ongoing work, but which is not available or leverage-able by others.
Gates grantees were suggested that the lab must enable knowledge flows between the state, different grantees and the lab team such that each of them can know about the various facets of the rural health context and update their knowledge continuously. Many thought that cross-flow of knowledge would also enable more informed and integrated decision making.
Communication and Idea Flows
Structured communication flows and effective feedback loops, across different lateral and hierarchical levels in the health system, are absent currently. Currently the service delivery cadres are not able to communicate their challenges, observed opportunities or even incremental improvements to district or state level officials. Similarly state level officials are not in direct and continuous touch with delivery cadres to either motivate them or express the larger objective of health programs and various interventions. Building ownership at all levels in the system is, deemed by some, the biggest challenge to improving the performance of the system and radical benefits could be expected if it was addressed.
Many discussants believed that continuous interaction between different levels and cadres across the health system is important to fast-forward the process of improving health-service delivery and uptake as a whole.
Linked to the last point of ideas and ownership is the question of viability. Sara Chamberlain, from BBC WST, rightly mentioned that ‘sustainability of the business model something most innovations lack or don’t think of and therefore these cannot take off’.
A discussant mentioned that while many ‘useful’ intervention concepts and ideas were floating around in development organizations – they did not have or know a way to take them ahead. A discussant talked about an idea around generic disease diagnostic services and portable tools for the same that could work in remote areas and be operated by locals. Post the diagnosis the patients could be advised on preventive and curative action as well as referred to specific PHCs and medical specialists. Discussants agreed that these ideas deserved a chance to be reviewed and taken forward and the lab could be a vehicle through which this could happen.
It was discussed that the lab could bring tremendous value if it were to provide a platform to filter such ideas and link extremely high value and prioritized ideas to design refinement intelligence, funding agencies, business modelling and entrepreneurial expertise and policy advice.
Application to other developmental challenges
A group of specialists from diverse sectors from rural development, telecom, culture to livelihood sectors expressed that this model could be applied to other ‘needy’ such as gendered and neglected communities empowerment, agriculture, sustainable livelihoods and financial inclusion, and education.