Reimagining Technical Assistance to Shift Power

January 18th, 2023 | viewpoint


This is an excerpt of the opinion piece, originally published on Devex on January 12, 2023.

The global development community is converging around a vision of a new global health system — one in which local entities and experts set the agenda, coordinate their own programming, and ensure that funding decisions respond to locally identified needs. This requires that donors and implementers invest in trust-building with partner governments and civil society, leverage local resources and expertise, and adhere to mutual understanding and responsibility. This system — grounded in continuous learning, adaptation, innovation, and accountability — will strengthen local entities and partners to build more resilient health systems around the world and ultimately achieve more equitable, robust, and sustainable health outcomes.

This vision depends on radically new approaches to technical assistance, or TA, that value existing capability and accomplishment and help strengthen national and community capacity to sustainably design, manage, and adapt health systems. We need to replace the entrenched TA methods that do little to build on success and strengthen long-term capacity — and often perpetuate the disparities we seek to diminish.

In 2018, JSI — an NGO that has provided TA in 107 countries through 2,600 projects — launched an initiative aptly named Reimagining Technical Assistance, or RTA, at the request of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Our goal was to create a road map to the new global health system we all envision. As JSI’s new president and CEO, I am honored to offer our evolving insights to the larger conversation about local capacity enhancement and strengthening.

By Margaret Crotty, JSI President & CEO

Photo by Erick Gibson

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