An integrated multisectoral and multidisciplinary community of practice collaboration to enhance child wellbeing in South Africa

Sadiyya Haffejee, Sonia Mbowa, Leila Patel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: There is a growing call both globally and nationally for integrated multisectoral and multidisciplinary systems of care to be implemented for children's needs in the foundation stages of their growth to be met. Extant literature shows that historical, structural, epidemiological, political and social factors create many adversities for South African children both in the short and in the long term. South Africa's fragmented and weak service delivery compounds the situation. In this paper, the authors describe the lessons learnt from a multisectoral and multidisciplinary community of practice established to strengthen social systems to ensure child wellbeing outcomes. Design/methodology/approach: A qualitative research design was used, drawing on data collected over a two-year period. Data included meeting minutes, focus group discussions, and email communications between project partners. Focus group discussions were audio-recorded and transcribed verbatim. Data was analysed thematically. Findings: Findings show that having a shared goal, establishing supportive, mutually beneficial relationships and contributing to services that enhance child wellbeing outcomes enabled the community of practice, while differing organizational mandates and heavy workloads constrained the partnership. Research limitations/implications: The study shows the effectiveness of a Community of Practice (CoP) in integrating services across sectors for children's well-being and promoting collaborative learning and intersectoral work. However, this success also depends on the presence of strong leadership and efficient coordination.Limitation: Despite its benefits, the CoP model presents challenges, including securing active participation and buy-in from stakeholders, managing time and resource constraints, and dealing with issues in the existing service delivery system. Questions about long-term sustainability and the practicalities of scaling and institutionalizing the model need to be addressed. Originality/value: Through this paper, the authors contribute to a nascent area of research in the Global South, critically reflecting on the lessons the authors learnt from implementing an integrated community of practice approach to strengthen social sector systems toward the enhancement of children's wellbeing.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)401-416
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Integrated Care
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 6 Dec 2023


  • Health and wellbeing
  • Integrated children's services
  • Partnership working

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health (social science)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Public Administration


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