Over the past two decades, the SOPHA program has collaborated with national Public Health Associations (PHAs) in 30 countries and two regional PHA networks. The manner in which SOPHA PHA partnerships evolve can be classified into a concentric series of progressive steps:
Core PHA partners benefit by receiving direct assistance to help them improve their organizational and performance capacities.
During the current 2006-2011 program phase SOPHA will work with eight core partners. These include the Public Health Associations of:
SOPHA will provide assistance to help these PHAs reach a development stage where they are able to respond to key public health needs in their respective countries. As they consolidate their achievements and opportunities for growth and sustainability these PHAs will transition out from receiving SOPHA support and will eventually graduate.
As PHA partners graduate, this allows the program to add young PHAs as new partners that require SOPHA assistance.
As PHAs mature, and their organizational capacities improve over time, many reach a point where they no longer require direct technical and financial support through SOPHA, and are considered graduated partners.
PHAs attain graduated status when a variety of institutional and programmatic criteria have been met, and the PHAs are functioning, or are about to function independently of the program. From past experience, SOPHA PHA partners have taken between 6-13 years to graduate. Recent SOPHA graduates include the PHAs of Burkina Faso, Ethiopia and Uganda.
SOPHA makes efforts to catalyze opportunities for current partners to connect and benefit from the knowledge and experiences of graduated PHAs through various mentorship activities.
Given that graduated PHAs possess considerable experience and technical expertise, they play a valuable mentoring role of providing advice and guidance to new and emerging PHAs on a variety of organizational and performance capacity issues.
The SOPHA program strives to foster an element of mentorship and “south-south” collaboration by providing opportunities for its current group of partners to make contact with previous graduates of the program; such as the PHAs of Burkina Faso and Uganda.
In addition, partners have the opportunity to meet other mature PHAs, through international meetings or conferences, organized by the World Federation of Public Health Associations (WFPHA).