Knowledge Network: Vision and Work in Progress
India has many outstanding public health programs that are exemplars of innovation in terms of methods and new tools. The knowledge generated by such programs is rich. These include innovations in implementation, evaluation methods, survey and monitoring data, scaling up concepts and frameworks, and organisational processes. However, this knowledge tends to stay confined within separate programs. Organisations reinvent wheels, there is loss in efficiency and effectiveness, and ultimately lives.

There are two reasons why this sharing does not happen. The first is if the basic skills in knowledge capture and documentation don’t exist. Organisations do good things, but the knowledge of how they did it is never documented and evaporates. Second, because knowledge sharing is essentially counter-cultural, because proprietary know-how can win grants. Methods are described at a high level in journals but never documented in user manuals. The ethos of knowledge sharing as a public health obligation doesn’t exist.

Our vision is of a Knowledge Network that encompasses the creation, documentation and dissemination of these knowledge products, by different programs across the country. Each player would have a vested interest in participating in the Network (shared knowledge = strong partnership = rapid growth) and should be willing to pay for services. In this way the network would grow organically.

The Knowledge Network is a fledgling effort where we have taken only the first steps. We envisage the following activities as we develop the idea.

Knowledge Products
Help organisations document knowledge coming out of specific programs that they are implementing. This can span the complete journey of a program or initiative, including the inception, theory of change, ecosystem of interventions, scaling methods, government relations, innovations and tools, monitoring system, evaluations, and organisation structure.

These products could take the form of compendiums, monographs, operating guidelines, peer reviewed publications, videos and other forms of media. We could set these up for transmission among our partners through different knowledge sharing platforms.

Knowledge Exchange
Our Knowledge Exchange platform creates missing linkages among partners in public health and related sectors – government, program implementers, donors, academia, business, and the community. This is done in two ways. One is through a digital knowledge platform, housing knowledge products that participating organisations can access. The other is connecting organisations in the real world, through convening of symposiums, exposure visits, and regular discussions on common themes.

We have taken the first step in this direction through a contract we have received, to visit 50 exemplary programs across India and create a compendium of this knowledge. Read more about this program here.