Skoll World Forum Review: Service Delivery Innovation for the Very Poor
Team Lead (Impact, Knowledge and Communications), United Nations Development Programme
April 17, 2014 | 2441 views
Building off the advance series collection of articles written by delegates and speakers of this year's Skoll World Forum, this section will feature live blogs and pieces from the event in Oxford. We will be covering a wide variety of sessions, panels and discussions on-site. View the live-stream on the homepage, and watch here for real-time articles all week! -- Each year at the Skoll World Forum, nearly 1,000 of the world’s most influential social entrepreneurs, key thought leaders and strategic partners gather at the University of Oxford’s Saïd Business School to exchange ideas, solutions and information. Learn more about the 2014 Skoll World Forum, sign up to our newsletter to be notified of the live stream, view the 2014 delegate roster and discover what themes and ideas we'll be covering this year at the event. Also, read about the seven recipients of this year's Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship.
The Skoll World Forum’s panel for The Impact Jackpot: Service Delivery Innovation for the Very Poor was an all-star line-up that included Dr. Christine Kaseba-Sata, the First Lady of Zambia and respected doctor in obstetrics and gynecology, Neal Keny-Guyer (CEO, Mercy Corps), Andrew Youn (founder of One Acre Fund) and Steve Davis (president and CEO, PATH).
Mainly working within the field of health, the panel focused on the challenges of collapsing the last mile and reaching the very poor in terms of health delivery. The idea of the day seemed to be creating a demand-driven model in terms of health delivery where supply is mobile, flexible and responsive to the needs of the poor (rather than a ‘build it and they will come’ 70s and 80s model). For that, the answer seemed to lie in consumer-driven design and in ‘right-aligning incentives’ which will ultimately create efficiencies in price and delivery. As Andrew Youn noted, “We know how to solve every problem that someone [living in poverty] has, it is a question of reaching them”.
The emergence of ICT and better data on how the poor are using health services has created and is continuing to create better targeted, cheaper and more comprehensive health care programmes, particularly in preventive care. However, the importance of working within existing healthcare systems provided by government (while attempting to strengthen them) was sounded out by Dr. Kaseba-Sata who noted that “anything that involves a scale-up requires government leadership”. Furthermore, the sometimes expensive effort to build greater awareness among the poor, and effectively community-organizing the poor in order to inform and empower them as to their own rights regarding access to health, is of critical importance.
Working with government systems is difficult; it involves capacity building efforts by an often more agile organization, long timelines and adaptation to government priorities and messages. Learning how to do that effectively without compromising the ability to urgently serve the needs of the world’s poor is a difficult task, but a necessary one. Along with the fervent belief in product configuration to create a consumer-driven demand model, organizations must also believe in the imperative to work with public health systems and government processes in order to achieve scale, immediacy and sustainability.