Action Point 6 - Strategy to ensure the sustainability of the Network
The South-East Asia Regulatory Network (SEARN) was created in 2016 by the 11 Member States of the WHO South-East Asia Region to develop and strengthen regulatory collaboration, convergence and reliance in the South-East Asia region over shared regulatory issues and challenges.
To carry out its mission, the network adopts a workplan which is implemented by drafting groups and working groups under the control of the Steering group, supported by the secretariat.
While the activities of the network develop, the Members of SEARN considered that consideration should be given to ensuring there are adequate resources to support SEARN and its activities.
To address this need, the Assembly adopted on 8 June 2022 the SEARN Work Plan 2022-2023 which includes the action point 6, led by Working Group 2 (WG2) Regulatory Strengthening: ‘Draft a strategy to review possible funding sources in order to ensure the sustainability of the network and support the workplan’.
Scope and definitions
In its work, SEARN currently uses two main types of resources:
- Human resources, voluntarily provided by the NRAs, the organization in charge of the secretariat, and partners
- Financial resources, which are used to conduct the activity of the network (e.g. organizing physical meetings) and the workplan (e.g. to support capacity building or to develop the required IT system)
This strategy considers both types of resources.
To ensure the SEARN has sufficient and sustainable resources to ensure the functioning of the network and carry out the intended activities included in its workplan.
- To identify and review the resources needed by SEARN to function and perform its activities;
- To identify and review potential and available resources;
- To propose a strategy to ensure adequacy between the resources and the activities.
Human Resources (HR) play a significant role in creating and implementing sustainability strategies and is critical to improve effectiveness of such strategies. The strategy for HR should be aligned with the long-term perspectives and adequate consideration is crucial in aiding the technological and cultural changes needed to help ensuring the sustainability of the Network.
Human resources are required from the Members, to ensure there is adequate participation in the Network, including effective participation in the meetings of the Steering group, working groups and Drafting groups, as well as sufficient expertise available and staff time allocated to support the functioning of the network and the workplan. Similarly, adequate human resources are required from the secretariat to support its missions as per the terms of reference, including the organisation of the meetings and support members in making progress in the approved workplan.
The understanding of sufficient human resources can be further analyzed in terms of sufficient quantity and sufficient quality, both of which depend on clear objectives and priorities from the Network:
- Ratio of work load to people working – Adequate personnel from the member states (Focal point and members) and secretariat needs to be identified and allotted depending on the nature of activity so that there is effective implementation of the activities.
- Volunteering opportunities/option - Among the member states, volunteering opportunities/options should be kept open wherein any member state can volunteer to work with the activities relevant to them or support other (member states) in carrying out the assigned activities/work.
- Identification of focal – Focal point from each member country to be identified to lead, communicate and coordinate the activities, including through soliciting support from NRA colleagues (and beyond) as required.
- Right people at right place - A right person for the right work determines work performance by maximizing productivity. The person working should have in-depth knowledge related to the activities that they are assigned and should be well aware on the expected outcome. Member states should identify and appoint individual with relevant qualification or experiences for the activities.
- Technical expertise: There may be need for additional technical experts/consultants or other development partners to support the planned activities (Example: Activities requiring development of guidelines/SOPs)
- Participation in the network: as highlighted in the SEARN 2022-2023 workplan, active participation in the network, including its meetings, is also an opportunity to be exposed to other regulators, approaches, and gain experience from other countries.
Adequate knowledge management
Several sections from the SEARN terms of reference address knowledge management. In the future, the use of the public website and the internal platform will facilitate knowledge management.
To date, financial resources have been required by the network to support mainly two types of activities:
- Regular physical meetings, especially the ones of the Assembly of the Members of SEARN
- Development of a public and an internal website.
In the next couple of years, it is expected that a similar budget will be required to organize the yearly meeting of the Assembly of the Members. The costs related to the websites are expected to be reduced to maintenance and hosting these on servers, unless further development is required.
Beyond the current needs, the Members of SEARN should consider that certain activities, especially related to capacity building, will require additional financial resources.
Potential and available resources
- NRA staff
- NRA experts
- External experts used by NRAs
Since January 2022 has recorded all meeting documents (agendas, minutes, presentations, etc). They will make available for the member through the official website which is under WG4 Information Sharing.
- One technical staff in WHO SEARO
- One administrative staff
Adequate knowledge management
In the future, the use of the public website and the internal platform will facilitate knowledge management.
Other organisations and partners
AP1 Capacity Building has provided information regarding Partners, WHO, and WHO Collaborating Centers and other Centers of Excellence. The establishment of a coalition of interested parties (CIP) at the regional level may provide further opportunity to mobilize and coordinate with partners.
Participation in the network
As per the terms of reference, the SEARN members the members of the working groups are ‘expected to actively participate in all meetings of the working group, including through participating in the discussions, taking their share in the activities through volunteering to become rapporteur and supporting rapporteurs (please refer to section “12.4 Working method ”), commenting on the shared documents when required, and participating in the votes when required’.
This participation is critical to ensure the ownership of the developed strategies and their relevance to all Member States.
Transparency on the activities of the Network
To enable NRAs to ensure whether the time of the staff they dedicate to the Network is well spent, the Steering group, the Chairs of the working groups, and the Secretariat will continue, as per the terms of reference to ensure regular reporting on the activities of the network, the progress in the agreed workplan, and transparency about the impact of the work of SEARN.
This transparency is also a requirement to ensure interest and effective collaboration with potential development partners. The Network will be encouraged to share the outputs of its work on the public website.
The secretariat will keep up to date the public website of SEARN as per the terms of reference.
Further, once finalized, the secretariat will ensure that all relevant documents from the activities of the network can be easily retrieved by SEARN members on the internal platform. In order to ensure awareness and ease of use of the platform, the secretariat will propose educational tools (e.g. a user guide, or introductory video(s)).
Coalition of interested parties
The Assembly agreed to establish a Coalition of Interested Parties at the regional level to support the activities of SEARN.