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Knowledge SUCCESS to Provide KM Support to Global COVID-19 Vaccination Response

Knowledge SUCCESS will provide technical assistance in knowledge management to USAID’s COVID-19 Response Team


As the COVID-19 pandemic evolves, managing the response is a complex undertaking requiring knowledge sharing, coordination, and continuous learning among stakeholders. USAID’s Global Health (GH) Bureau’s COVID-19 Response Team seeks to proactively respond to global needs for emergency COVID-19 programming through cross-cutting coordination, continuous learning and improvement, and knowledge exchange.

This is where Knowledge SUCCESS comes in. The project will provide technical assistance to response goals in the form of knowledge management (KM), synthesis, and sharing.

Why KM for the COVID-19 Response?

Knowledge management is the process of collecting and curating knowledge and connecting people to it so they can act effectively. “Knowledge management is critical for creating a culture of constant improvement, adaptive response, and applied learning,” said Alexia Bishop, Senior Knowledge Management Advisor, on the COVID-19 Response Team in USAID’s Global Health Bureau.

“The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the essential need for practical, adaptable, and sustainable KM in a wide range of contexts, to meet the needs of USAID staff, both in Washington and at Missions, programs, and implementing partners; and be performed in alignment with USAID’s commitment to collaboration, learning, and adapting (CLA).”

A Laser Focus on KM for the COVID-19 Vaccine Response

This scope of work will focus primarily on vaccination efforts against COVID-19. The COVID-19 Response Team is focusing on strengthening and coordination through the Global VAX Initiative (Global VAX), which provides diplomatic, technical, and financial support to partner countries to increase COVID-19 vaccine uptake. Part of this effort requires understanding what implementing partners are doing to expand vaccination efforts and documenting and sharing their experiences and lessons learned to inform current and future response efforts.

This knowledge will expand USAID’s emergency support to USAID Missions, implementing partners, and host country governments, helping them perform more effectively and efficiently in a time of crisis. Access to curated and synthesized knowledge and use of that knowledge will yield better health outcomes in relation to the global COVID-19 pandemic response, and can in turn strengthen our global response efforts for future health emergencies.

Activities for COVID-19 Vaccination Response

Through Congressionally-appropriated funding through the American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act and other Acts, USAID and its partners mounted an effective COVID-19 response, prioritizing vaccine access and delivery to populations with the greatest need. This has presented an opportunity for USAID and its partners to share knowledge, solve problems, and align on global efforts. To this end, Knowledge SUCCESS seeks to support the knowledge management needs of USAID’s COVID-19 response in four ways:

  1. Document and disseminate the current COVID-19 vaccine landscape
  2. Curate resources and synthesize knowledge
  3. Support knowledge exchange among implementing partners
  4. Publish COVID-19 vaccine lessons learned and programmatic adaptations

One of the activities included under this buy-in will entail creating a digital tool comprising all COVID-19 vaccine-related resources and tools that projects have developed or regularly reference.

“There are so many USAID-funded projects that received special funds to contribute to the COVID-19 emergency response. What’s missing is a comprehensive database, or some kind of documentation on all these efforts that can be used for the remainder of the COVID-19 response and future emergencies,”

said Erica Nybro, Senior Strategic Communications Advisor at the Johns Hopkins Center for Communication Programs (CCP) and one of the project leads. “The aim is that we can fill this gap.” In addition to the digital tool, Knowledge SUCCESS will also develop 20 Essential Resources collections based on different priority subtopics within COVID-19 vaccine implementation.

Bringing the KM for FP/RH Expertise to COVID-19

While it’s true that Knowledge SUCCESS is not currently considered a COVID-19 response project, the project has years of experience providing KM expertise, primarily to family planning and reproductive health programs, but also on the integration of KM into emergency response efforts. Knowledge SUCCESS is led by CCP, which supported the US government’s Zika response under the Knowledge for Health (K4Health) project. Through the facilitation of share fairs, creation of the Zika Communication Network, a summary report, and Synthesis of Lessons Learned for Future Public Health Emergencies, CCP brought USAID’s Zika partners together to share critical knowledge and apply insights toward future responses.

“While Knowledge SUCCESS is an FP/RH project, it has a laser focus on KM. The project leverages creative and fun KM techniques to engage family planning practitioners and local organizations, making it easier for FP/RH professionals to find relevant technical information, share it with others, and use it in their programs. The team will bring this approach and mission to the COVID-19 project,”

said Bishop.

“We’re so excited to receive this funding from USAID and apply our KM expertise to the COVID-19 pandemic response,” said Anne Ballard Sara, Senior Program Officer at CCP, who led the K4Health Zika scope of work and is one of the leads on the COVID-19 KM project. As a new partner in the COVID-19 response landscape, Knowledge SUCCESS plans to facilitate a culture of knowledge sharing, synthesis, and exchange among implementing partners. As Bishop stated,

“Health professionals working in the COVID-19 response will benefit greatly from partnership with Knowledge SUCCESS. When people share what they know, and can find what they need when they need it, programs are able to reach their full potential and avoid repeating costly mistakes. Knowledge SUCCESS has put this into practice with the organizing of share fairs, peer assists, dissemination events, and development of useful, timely, and relevant content for technical audiences.”

To follow updates, check the COVID-19 Vaccination Response landing page.

Health worker in Madagascar administers U.S. donated vaccines to people most at risk of COVID-19. Photo by USAID/Madagascar. Courtesy of flickr.
Natalie Apcar

Program Officer, KM & Communications, Knowledge SUCCESS

Natalie Apcar is a Program Officer at the Johns Hopkins Center for Communication Programs, supporting knowledge management partnership activities, content creation, and communications for Knowledge SUCCESS. Natalie has worked for a variety of nonprofits and built a background in planning, implementation, and monitoring of public health programming, including gender integration. Other interests include youth and community-led development, which she got the chance to engage in as US Peace Corps Volunteer in Morocco. Natalie earned a Bachelor of Arts in International Studies from American University and a Master of Science in Gender, Development, and Globalization from the London School of Economics and Political Science.

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