Since its launch, LNCT has continuously examined its approach to engaging and supporting country members to respond to transition-related challenges. Earlier this year, and prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) commissioned an assessment of LNCT to identify core strengths, challenges, and future opportunities. Through interviews with Country Core Group (CCG) members, Steering Committee members, partners, funders, and members of LNCT’s technical coordination team, the assessment produced two key recommendations: 1) conduct a strategic planning process to clearly define the Network’s scope and focus; and, 2) strengthen its virtual support to transitioning countries.
As the Network Coordinators, we welcomed the external feedback and carefully considered the recommendations. The recommendation around virtual support is particularly timely in the context of COVID-19, as we must rely almost entirely on online interactions until international travel is deemed safe again. At the same time, COVID-19 introduced unprecedented challenges that are forcing immunization programs around the world to develop innovative and unproven solutions – the peer-learning approach can accelerate the process of identifying and applying better practices. We outline here our three priorities for implementing the assessment recommendations to maximize LNCT’s effectiveness during the pandemic and beyond.
- Improve our understanding of country contexts and country needs. We will work with countries to see how to reform the country core group (CCG) mechanism so it can more effectively advocate for immunization in-country and liaise with LNCT network coordinators, while minimizing duplication and bureaucracy. We will seek input from LNCT Steering Committee members as we consider various options. We will strengthen our relationships with Gavi partners and senior country managers (SCM) – this will require support from Gavi and their partners to identify or develop effective opportunities for exchange. We will also participate in Gavi’s sustainability task team meetings to ensure awareness of, and alignment with, other partner efforts.
- Continue and improve upon our work to provide relevant and user-friendly resources for our members. LNCT is introducing innovative ways to support member countries. We are developing a “video case study” this year, which provides the information and analysis of a traditional case study in a more engaging format. We will embark on a project to develop learner’s guides for key resources so that users can quickly decide what materials are relevant. We are creating tutorial videos that guide users through LNCT’s Making the Investment Case materials. In response to the pandemic, we quickly developed a COVID-19 resource page, which receives regular visitors and continues to grow, and we will adapt a planned workshop on private sector engagement to a virtual format. We will continue to respond to our members’ needs with new resources and formats that are practical and accessible.
- Develop clear, measurable indicators to evaluate the outputs and outcomes of LNCT’s virtual engagement. We commit to developing a clear theory of change (TOC) by year-end that identifies the points where LNCT activities are expected to have an effect on country transitions. While we will not be able to attribute outcomes to LNCT activities, the TOC will allow us to see clearly how LNCT contributes to successful transition and measure the effectiveness of the network.
Since LNCT’s launch in 2017, LNCT has grown and adapted to evolving challenges and country priorities as we welcomed new members and celebrated existing members’ successful transitions to self-financing. We are proud that the assessment found the peer-learning approach to be “…a valuable innovation, helping countries contextualize lessons and apply them to their own situations…” COVID-19 has posed new challenges for our member countries and for our network. LNCT will continue to adapt in order to support our member countries to address challenges to long-term sustainability.