Supporting a Worldwide Culture of Solidarity

By: Melissa Thomas
Posted On: April 17, 2023

The African proverb, “If you want to go fast, go alone – if you want to go far, go together,” may be translated into a single working concept: solidarity. As a community, OpenHIE chooses to step in with the meaningful intention to support solidarity, which encompasses a historical approach to global partnerships that invites collaboration and mutual aid. 

Solidarity allows for collaborative working relationships within the community, draws on multiple constructions of knowledge, and creates connections across systems, specifically in health information exchange.

Everyone has something to bring to the table

The OpenHIE community is composed of volunteers and partners across the globe who support and contribute to a community-created architecture framework for health information exchange. These volunteers participate in community conversations and share their knowledge with others in OpenHIE. This peer-building process connects not only systems for health data, but meaningful collaborations across international health systems.

The pursuit of community participation and knowledge sharing creates a culture of solidarity across the OpenHIE community, where partners co-creatively produce conceptual data architecture that can be implemented within their own health system. Adapting the architecture patterns allows dynamic conversations to happen globally, and volunteers further drive improvements in data exchange projects beyond their own community’s health system with collective ownership and knowledge sharing.

We believe in solidarity, not charity

Imparting resources without considering sustainability, and making recommendations without knowledge from those living in the community, often leads to band-aid solutions. 

“Solidarity over charity” describes an approach taken across multiple mutual aid partnerships. In the spirit of this approach, OpenHIE encourages co-ownership in a very concrete way, where everyone can come together.

Equal knowledge bases

For a project in Kenya, OpenHIE supporters brought in knowledge of the architecture, while Kenyan community members brought in knowledge of the culture and the feasibility of operationalizing the right architecture in these settings, which resulted in the open-source laboratory information system in 2021. Many countries, including Kenya, are in the process of establishing their health information exchange architecture or strategic plan. OpenHIE connects these countries and promotes the sharing of the artifacts and products, created by the international community and belonging to countries collectively, to enable other countries to develop their framework.

Everyone has the ability to contribute expertise and knowledge in the co-creation of the OpenHIE framework. Creating a culture of solidarity recognizes this collective ownership, and further celebrates the expertise of community members across the globe. 

For example, the architecture diagram, developed by an international community, can be modified across levels of specification by those trying to use it within their country’s health system. Approaching national architecture in this way allows for co-creativity, an informative design, and the nuanced development of global health information exchange.

Truth is triangulated

Ultimately, global health information exchange is about the health of everyone across the globe. This includes every system, culture, community, and more. The health of every person is a nuanced and dynamic experience and should reflect the global footprint of health, across all communities. The systems of these communities are taking care of millions of people, often working under resource constraints. Thereby, taking care of the world requires “doing more with less,” which you can see documented in our Impact Stories.

Through a culture of solidarity, the whole team works in collaboration to create this infrastructure and sustain technical solutions across open communities. A culture of solidarity requires not just teamwork, but meaningful collaboration and relationships to establish impactful, open exchange systems.

The OpenHIE community looks forward to connecting with many organizations to partner together in our shared commitments to solidarity. Check out the OpenHIE Partnership Organization (OPO) Program to learn more about how your organization can contribute to the digital transformation of health systems as part of a community that aligns with the mission of your organization.