Celebrating the 10-Year Legacy of the Southern Africa HIV and AIDS Regional Exchange (SHARE)

USAID-funded Southern Africa HIV and AIDS Regional Exchange (SHARE) began in 2011 as one of the first southern African online collaboration platforms tailored to facilitate information exchange and knowledge management in public health. Carla Visser, one of the SHARE founders, noted, “It has been exciting to see the platform evolve over the years to leverage new technologies and provide its diverse community of users with integrated access to curated resources in one location.”

“SHARE has been my go-to place for updated South African and regional HIV, AIDS, and TB research over the past 10 years,” according to Zuzelle Pretorius, a health facility quality improvement technical advisor at Panagora Group’s Technical Support Services (TSS) activity in South Africa. “I used it extensively to access recent academic research in Southern Africa and global and regional policy guidance, including on COVID-19 and how to sustain HIV and TB services during the pandemic.”

Zuzelle is one of over 108,000 users who accessed SHARE in the last 18 months of Panagora’s management. The site consolidated critical information from the region, including the latest research, tools, events and conferences, e-learning and webinars, and more.

SHARE’s resource library contained over 3,000 items, searchable by country, topic, and type–with streamlined navigation and simple sharing via common platforms (such as Gmail, WhatsApp, LinkedIn, and Twitter).

Caption (right side): SHARE team members with booth visitors at the South African AIDS Conference in 2019.

Panagora’s expertise in global health and collaborating, learning, and adapting made a natural fit when the TSS activity had the opportunity to take on SHARE’s management in October 2019. TSS Chief of Party Katie Reichert has been part of SHARE’s 10-year journey at various points.

She noted highlights including an oral presentation at the South African AIDS Conference 2019 and the introduction of personalization functionality to better enable users to quickly find the content most suited to their specific areas of interest. Katie also noted the following lessons learned:

  • Identify your target audience and their specific information needs: SHARE sought to consolidate content in one location to reduce users’ time and effort to find relevant resources and promote potentially lesser-known local materials. Considering the vast quantity of information available on a topic such as HIV in Southern Africa, it is critical to clearly define the audience and their needs to determine appropriate content categories and formats, as well as how to organize resources to optimize utilization.
  • Use social media to extend your reach: SHARE experienced a significant increase in its user base when Panagora’s management team implemented a detailed social media strategy and advertising via Facebook (one of the top social media platforms in Southern Africa). Social media referrals became one of the top channels for user access to SHARE, with over 40,000 Facebook followers—enabling the team to reach a much wider audience than the site alone.
  • Ensure your platform is mobile-friendly: There was a clear trend away from desktop access to mobile access to the site over time, making it imperative to incorporate functionality to suit audiences who primarily access information using their phones, such as health workers.

After supporting the website for over 10 years, USAID/Southern Africa brought SHARE to a close in May 2021 to focus on other information-sharing strategies. Panagora thanks SHARE’s users and supporters, celebrating its role and contributions while bidding the site a fond farewell.

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