What’s the difference between ‘coaching’ and technical assistance?

Achieving better population health outcomes requires strong, self-sustaining health systems, but driving systems-level change in countries is hard — it’s a continual process that is context-driven and requires navigating complex political, economic and institutional landscapes. Countries and practitioners have often expressed the need for better access to experts who understand country contexts and have relatable experiences to help guide them through tough implementation challenges.

Together, the African Collaborative for Health Financing Solutions, the Strategic Purchasing Africa Resource Center (SPARC), and the Accelerator are testing a country engagement approach that provides traditional technical assistance as well as access to “coaches” and “mentors” who work alongside and support country stakeholders through processes to identify root causes of health system challenges, interpret and apply locally generated and global evidence, develop and implement solutions that are technically valid, feasible, and have the buy-in of stakeholders. Coaches and mentors are not the active doers of work and producers of technical outputs, instead they support country individuals and institutions to achieve specific goals and gain capacity to routinely generate and implement solutions to health system challenges.

Nathaniel Otto, former CEO of Ghana’s National Health Insurance Authority and current executive director of SPARC has been providing “coaching” support for the board of Kenya’s National Hospital Insurance Fund since February 2019. Watch our video to learn more about the coaching approach and how it’s working in Kenya.

The Accelerator is also testing the coaching approach in Liberia to help countries connect local policy and practices with global evidence and innovations to empower and prepare them to take full ownership of investments in the health sector. In May 2019, Anthony Gingong, former Director of Provider Payment for Ghana’s National Health Insurance Authority, to support strengthening of the healthcare financing systems through coaching and mentoring of Ministry of Health officials as they make decisions around implementation of revolving drug funds as a precursor to the introduction of the Liberian Health Equity Fund, Liberia’s vision for national health insurance.

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