Why is BPS “Business Unusual”?
Why is BPS “Business Unusual”?
Most traditional international development and global health projects/programs start with a call for proposals, and final grants are fixed for a period of years. Partners usually have defined roles, defined geographical range, and defined scope. Outside of periodic grantees meetings, partners may not have much engagement with each other; they are unlikely to provide any technical feedback or share learning throughout their grant cycles. There may be some room for flexibility, but largely these grants are static through their implementation. There also may be some capacity building but often “sustainability” is limited to a transition of project materials at the end of the term. BPS breaks this mold in four ways:
Building prevention cascade capabilities and health systems capacities with the goal of institutionalizing them at district level is central to everything BPS does. The Government of Malawi is involved in virtually every aspect of BPS planning, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation. The government leads BPS governance structures and lends technical insight at city, district, and national levels.
BPS is not a service delivery project. BPS is focused on building the systems that will enable Blantyre to detect and target risk, generate demand for HIV prevention services and products, effectively deliver prevention products and interventions, and support effective and sustained use of prevention products by the end user. Enabling effective technical leadership and coordination of the HIV prevention response in Blantyre is the mission.
BPS partners work together a lot. That is not just lip-service. BPS partners collaborate weekly, if not daily at times. They plan together. They share technical expertise with each other. They support and enable each other’s activities. They help trouble shoot when issues arise. Most importantly, they share their learning with each other and identify better ways of operating and supporting government. It is not just BPS-funded partners either. BPS invites civil society and community groups, local service delivery organizations, PEPFAR-funded partners, and the private sector to join planning and monitoring meetings. The goal is to strengthen the entire ecosystem in Blantyre and make the entire HIV prevention response better, more resilient, and capable of doing what it needs to do to bring down new infections.
BPS is based on a hypothesis that a systems-approach that builds the prevention cascade capabilities at district level will enable an effective, coherent, well-coordinated HIV prevention response. BPS has a “Learning Agenda” focused on figuring out whether that hypothesis proves true and what it takes to make it a reality. BPS wants to not only change the HIV epidemic in Blantyre but also create a replicable model that other districts can use. Thus, BPS partners meet regularly to assess implementation, look at data, and interpret learning. If things are not working, partners change and adjust.