After disseminating the draft report for external review, teams typically engage a wider range of local stakeholders to validate and prioritize the assessment’s findings and recommendations. Convening local stakeholders to provide input through an in-country consultation has emerged as a best practice. This step is designed to draw on local knowledge and insights, and identify which of the recommendations are most feasible and should be prioritized as this effort moves from assessment to action. If funding is available, teams can organize a one- or two-day workshop for stakeholders representing all sectors—public, nonprofit, and commercial, as well as the donor community. This workshop builds local ownership and results in a prioritized list of actions. A sample agenda provides an overview of the typical sequence and content of these meetings.
2.1 Identifying Workshop Participants
After feedback has been received from external reviewers, the team leader and team coordinator (possibly with help from the local logistics consultant) should identify stakeholders whose input will improve the final report. This group should be a subset of the key informants interviewed during fieldwork, or organizations whose input is essential to getting local buy-in. Ensure strong and diverse representation from all sectors to get a range of views and build trust in the process and the assessment’s recommendations. Remember to include groups that have been traditionally overlooked—women’s organizations, networks of key populations, etc. In some cases, all stakeholders who were interviewed as part of the assessment are invited to the consultation. To facilitate discussion and encourage active participation, ideally the maximum number of attendees would be no more than 40. Facilitation guidelines are available as a resource.
2.2 Workshop Logistics
Working with the logistics consultant as necessary, the team coordinator should secure a comfortable venue, refreshments, and other necessary materials, such as flip charts, sticky notes, and markers. To strengthen local ownership, a local partner should be identified to help with issuing invitations, sending advance copies of the report, tracking RSVPs, and developing the agenda. Depending on the context, that partner could be the Ministry of Health, a private sector organization, or the local PPP technical working group, if one exists.
TIP ► Local support is critical to the success of the workshop. Make sure to secure high-level representation from key organizations, including the Ministry of Health and private sector associations or umbrella organizations. Representatives from these bodies should be invited to provide opening and/or closing remarks at a minimum.
2.3 Workshop Structure
Start with a high-level overview. The facilitator—likely a member of the assessment team—should review the key findings and recommendations for each of the technical areas covered in the report. After a short break, the attendees can break up into smaller groups based on their area of expertise. To the extent possible, aim for a balance of women and men in the working groups. Provide printed copies of the specific chapter that each group will be reviewing. The group can then go review individual findings and recommendations and provide their insights. They should identify any errors, gaps, or inconsistencies, and prioritize the top three recommendations that should be implemented. This template may be useful in guiding the prioritization process, reminding participants to consider potential impact as well as feasibility. This feedback will help shape the final report and will help create a road map for action. Depending on the length of the workshop, this part can be broken up into two separate break-out sessions: one focused on the findings, and another focused on the recommendations. A completed prioritization exercise is available as an additional resource.
TIP ► Work with local counterparts ahead of time to prepare them to lead break-out sessions. This will help focus the discussion and ensure that one person or topic does not dominate the conversation. After every group has finished reviewing its sections, participants reconvene in a final plenary session. Each group reports on its discussion, including explaining the rationale for its top three prioritized recommendations. Next, participants select the five recommendations that they feel are most essential to strengthening the health system and leveraging the private health sector. During this “vote,” participants should be advised to consider “low-hanging fruit”—achievable actions that can build momentum for future collaboration and partnerships.