In 2010 the IBP Partners celebrated a decade of activities. We produced a short report that summarizes our first 10 years. As partners we have always been committed to work collaboratively at the global and country levels to reduce duplication of effort and harmonize approaches, to share and exchange knowledge globally and to foster the management of change to scale up locally effective practices.
Our goal is to harness the power of partnership to improve reproductive health. As a partnership we feel that, although we may have many achievements, there is much work to be done to achieve universal access to reproductive health.
What has the IBP Consortium Accomplished?
At the global level the IBP has championed collaboration. When undertaken with good will and mutual respect, collaboration is the most productive way to work. The IBP has helped awaken the field of reproductive health to the value of knowledge and the importance of sharing knowledge and building on experience. It has created and shared with the world effective tools and techniques for doing so.
At the country level the IBP Consortium has been a catalyst for action. The partnership has fostered networking, teamwork, collaboration and coordination among organizations, avoided duplication of effort, introduced or reinforced concepts of evidence-based technical practices and proven-effective managerial and training practices. The partnership has developed processes to identify and document local effective practices and to foster and manage the change necessary to scale up these practices.
People around the world know of many best practices that can improve reproductive health care. What was needed was a systematic way for stakeholders to identify those best practices and put them to use throughout the health care system. The IBP Consortium has accomplished much in this direction. The task is far from done, however. More can be accomplished by scaling up worldwide the concept, commitment and process embodied in the IBP Consortium.
Many projects and partnerships come and go, having served their purpose. In contrast, the Implementing Best Practices (IBP) Initiative is about to begin its second decade. What explains this longevity and continuing growth and vitality? Five factors may contribute:
1. Collaboration accomplishes more.
Alone, each of the IBP partners is an individual center of excellence. Together, the partners have complementary strengths that support each other, thus creating a powerful partnership for change, dedicated to improving reproductive health. Together, the coordinated efforts of the partners accomplish more than the sum of the work by individual agencies.
2. The IBP Consortium is worth joining.
Organizations participate in the IBP partnership because they are committed to its vision and welcome working according to its principles—collaboratively, toward common goals. The IBP is one of only a handful of ongoing vehicles for working like this. Partners see the opportunity both to enhance their own impact through collaborations with like-minded organizations and to contribute their own skills and expertise to the collective resources of the partnership. The partners meet, plan, and work together with a sense of community characterized by mutual respect, equality, willingness to contribute, and recognition of everyone’s contributions.
3. The partnership is a learning organization.
Partners discuss, debate and address challenging issues. Together, the partners challenge themselves to think in new ways and to innovate, asking what should be done differently to be more effective as a partnership and to improve activities. In a sense, the IBP partnership has engaged in a continuous process of root-cause analysis to find the issues that lie behind the problems. Through this process the IBP has changed in response to its experience in a changing environment—a necessity for any living organism.
4. The IBP is uniquely positioned.
As a partnership of many members, the IBP Consortium can offer countries a range of expertise and technical resources that go well beyond what any one organization could offer. Furthermore, the IBP offers a big tent, with room and roles for organizations at international, regional, country and even state or provincial levels. The IBP seeks to bring all stakeholders under this tent and engage them in the collaborative process designed to identify, document and scale up effective practices.
5. The IBP Consortium’s home at WHO gives it leverage.
Throughout the world health professionals and policy-makers perceive WHO both as the ultimate authority on technical/clinical matters and as an impartial convener “above the fray”, thus able to bring together disparate stakeholders and to foster collaboration and consensus. The situating of the IBP Secretariat in WHO/RHR makes it possible to engage a wide range of people and organizations in countries around the world that otherwise might never come together. Crucially as well, the committed and energetic secretariat at WHO has consistently and effectively coordinated, organized, and championed the Consortium throughout its existence.