Call it what you will: joining up or combining interventions, integration or disaggregation. Whatever you call it, it is essential to achieving the Millennium Development Goals and to alleviating poverty and disease. We can’t agree more with Antonio Monteiro, former President of Cape Verde and recently appointed Nutrition Advocate for West Africa, that integration makes good common and fiscal sense , both of which are rightly held in high esteem by citizens who hold their governments accountable for effective programming. Most importantly, it saves lives.
Despite the fact that this concept seemed obvious to most of us, we – and our partners – noticed a troublesome gap in the way we communicated this message: we lacked a compilation of practical examples to serve as evidence that integration is successful. Even more practically, we lacked a resource that answered the question, “What does integration look like in the field?” This gap came up repeatedly, and it was during some meetings last year with our partners across the pond that we were inspired to work together to try to fill the gap. Thus, the seeds were planted for what would become our new report, Join up, Scale up: How integration can defeat poverty and disease.
The report illustrates successful models of integration on both the interventions level and the government level. Just as disease and poverty solutions need to be “joined up” to realize the greatest impact, governments must work with civil society organizations and community leaders to “scale up” these successes. The recommendations in the report provide a road map for donors and policymakers to implement integrated programs.
One case study in the report features PATH’s diarrhoeal disease control program in Kenya. The pilot program integrated treatment interventions, like oral rehydration therapy (ORT) corners, with preventive measures, like hygiene education and safe drinking water. The innovative approach proved successful and influenced Kenya’s Ministry of Health to launch official policy guidelines on the prevention and treatment of diarrheal disease. Work is now being done on the local level to continue to raise awareness of the integration approach. Florence Weke-sa, deputy mayor of Kimilili in Western Kenya, is thrilled with the program’s work there, saying, “Do not do this work in silence. Work with local leaders. Shout about it. Make a loud noise.”
These children at the ORT corner at Kakamega Hospital in Kenya will be dismissed in a matter of hours.
In just a few weeks, we’re going to make a loud noise at the UNC Water and Health Conference. Alfred Ochola, Primary health coordinator for PATH’s diarrheal disease control program in Kenya’s Western Province, will bring his on-the-ground perspective of the field work to the workshop, “Collaborating for WaSH and Health: Case Studies for Cost-Effective and Integrated Promotion.” We hope to see you there, but if you can’t make it, you can follow us at @defeatDD for the latest updates from the event.
We’re grateful for the opportunity to join voices with our great partners on this project: Action Against Hunger, Action for Global Health, End Water Poverty, Tearfund, and WaterAid. And we look forward to working with you, too, to send the message to donors and governments: join up, scale up, and save lives!
Read the report here.