H2L2 briefing note

What is H2L2?

H2L2 (Humanitarian Health Lessons Learned) is a knowledge community to connect health workers, volunteers, and affected families in order to improve humanitarian health preparedness and response, building on a pilot run by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) in 2013. We propose to launch the initiative with an inaugural exercise open to all those involved or affected by the Ebola crisis in 2014-2015. The purpose of the exercise will be to explore if and how lessons learned from the Ebola response have been applied to new crises.

View the initial H2L2 concept presentation (2 November 2015)

Who is developing H2L2?

The Geneva Learning Foundation, a new organization with the mission of fostering learning innovation, is working with the University of Illinois. The initiative is supported by an advisory group that includes other universities, humanitarian health practitioners, policy experts, and other stakeholders.

Why do we need H2L2?

The unprecedented complexity and scale of the current Ebola outbreak demonstrated that existing capacities of organizations with technical, normative culture, methods and approaches are not necessarily scalable or adaptable to novel or larger challenges. Large and complex public health emergencies are different each time. Each new event poses specific problems. Hence, traditional approaches to standardize “best practice” are unlikely to succeed. H2L2 aims to ensure that learning is continually captured and embedded in systems, practices, and structures so that it can be shared and regularly used to intentionally improve human resources and coordination.

What is different about H2L2?

H2L2 aims to open access to shared learning from humanitarian health crises, increasing the volume (scalable to accommodate hundreds or thousands of participants), diversity (any organization, country, role in the epidemic), and efficiency (faster knowledge production without sacrificing quality). Furthermore, knowledge sharing and peer review ensure that participants are learning from each other as they work, so that the lessons identified and reflect on have an immediate impact across the network of those taking part (and, by extension, their work contexts and organizations).

Why start with lessons learned from the Ebola crisis?

Lessons learned are already a major topic (2,690 articles found by Google Scholar for the search terms “Ebola” and “lessons learned”, with 70% of them published in 2015). Yet, many if not most of these processes have relied on small, closed feedback loops, inside expert circles or established organisational hierarchies. This has limited the ability of such reviews to achieve double-loop learning in which governing values as well as actions are questioned. Furthermore, affected communities have seldom been included – and mainstreaming community engagement is unlikely to be achieved as long as we lack mechanisms to do so effectively.

How does H2L2 align to the reform of WHO’s Health Emergencies Programme?

H2L2 can provide a platform to both scale up and open knowledge production, sharing, and learning, to support the development of country-specific plans aligned to global strategy, build response team coordination and trust (preparedness), provide an always-on network of capabilities and experience (crisis response), and engage post-crisis actors through reflective exercise on what worked and why. H2L2 technology can enable and support efforts toward an organisational culture of improved coordination, leadership, and preparedness in and between organizations, governments, and local communities.

Is it value for money (V4M)?

The Year 1 budget covers the full cost of developing H2L2, running the inaugural exercise on lessons learned from the Ebola crisis, and includes a research component to measure impact. Furthermore, there is no upper limit on the number of participants. This may be compared to low-volume, high-cost training or single-time, limited audience lessons learned events.

Geneva Learning Foundation
5 April 2016 (Updated 24 May 2016)

Learn more

To learn more about H2L2, you may read this five-part blog series.

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