Coordinating Complex Health Programs

The challenge of coordination is to motivate groups to align their activities in order to maximize financial and human resources. Without effective coordination, scarce resources are wasted because of competition, confusion, and duplication of efforts. Coordinating complex health programs brings into play all the skills related to leading and managing, from planning to monitoring and evaluation. Coordination presents challenges of the same types at all levels and in all areas: national, multisectoral HIV/AIDS programs; nationwide immunization programs; or district-level programs coordinating with the community to deliver family planning services. However, at the national level, the costs of weak coordination can be immense.

This issue of The Manager explores different types and mechanisms of coordination to help you choose which type of coordination best meets the needs of your organization or program. The issue reviews the forms of coordination for rapid response in health emergencies as well as for long-term sustainable action. There are guidelines for setting up a new coordinating body or breathing life into an existing entity.

This issue also provides practical approaches for managing political dynamics and overcoming common barriers to coordination. It examines the kinds of coordination that are most appropriate for HIV/AIDS programs and concludes by presenting tools and processes that you can adapt and use to meet the needs of your organization, program, or coordinating body.