Reimagining Technical Assistance

Strengthening country capacity and improving health outcomes for all.

Within the global health industry, there have been longstanding conversations pushing for change in the way technical assistance (TA) — a primary mechanism for delivering health aid — is administered. At times, current approaches to technical assistance do little to help countries strengthen their capacities and health systems, causing more harm than good. The pandemic was a global wake-up call that exposed inefficiencies and gaps in the global health aid system that hinder response efforts and, in some instances, can further fragment health services. We need to move beyond the status quo and listen to what countries and TA recipients want from TA.

We are inspired by our recent work that surfaced a range of entrenched TA and capacity-strengthening (CS) practices that undermine countries’ ability to lead health sector performance and outlined nine critical shifts as a vision for the future. As a next step, we are using these insights and our experience implementing 2,600 projects across 107 countries to reflect on our role as an implementer and improve our approach to TA and CS.

Our Vision: The Critical Shifts

Co-created and validated by stakeholders — including government, local and international implementing partners, and representatives of communities of interest — the critical shifts are a bridge between identified challenges to current approaches and the vision developed for improved TA and CS investments.

The critical shifts envision shifting how we—

  • set the agenda, fund, and partner
  • plan, design, and implement programs
  • reduce inequity and manage power asymmetries

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Critical Shift

Our Approach: Theory of Change

JSI believes in TA and CS strategies that prioritize long-term sustainable change, and supports community capacity to conduct proven health sector interventions. That is why JSI is committed to the Reimagining Technical Assistance Critical Shifts. To progress toward the critical shifts, JSI will focus on:

  • The role of country leadership including governments, civil society partners, and the private sector in identifying and advancing health sector investment, priorities, and resilience.
  • Respectful and effective partnerships with country-level actors that ensure transparency, promote local interests and priorities, nurture local ownership of capacity development, and enhance country-level leadership.
  • Collaborative programming practices that promote learning and tailoring interventions to local contexts and client needs, and adaptive management and accountability to local actors.
  • Thought leadership with our partners on practices needed to improve health investment efficacy.

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We call on our partners and other actors in global health — including funders, implementing partners, host governments, and civil society organizations — to aspire to the critical shifts when implementing TA and CS for better health outcomes for future generations.

Send suggestions or questions to reimaginingtawg@jsi.com.