Friday, 29 January 2016

Health Partnerships: An Effective Response to the Global Health Agenda

THET is very pleased to announce the release of the first publications in our special series in the academic journal, Globalization and Health, ‘Health Partnerships: an effective response to the global health agenda’.  The series sets out to explore the concept of international ‘twinning’ relationships between healthcare delivery or training institutions in high-income countries and counterparts in low or middle-income countries.  Health partnerships build the expertise and capacity of an institution’s health workforce not only in clinical areas, but also leadership, management, patient safety, research, and monitoring and evaluation.  Partnerships may also work on the implementation of standards and protocols, develop curricula, or influence health policy.

Health partnerships frequently publish in journals specific to their clinical specialism  but this is the first time that a journal has published a collection of articles dedicated to health partnerships’ work.  So this series is a milestone for health partnerships, which shows how far we have come; it is the product of a movement that puts partnership at the heart of strengthening health systems.

It was at THET’s annual conference that the idea for a special series on health partnerships was born, with support and encouragement from Greg Martin, editor-in-chief of Globalization and Health, who was one of our speakers (see also Greg’s YouTube series on Global Health).  The time was right for a series: THET had funded a significant number of projects across multiple grant programmes (International Health Links Funding Scheme, Health Partnership Scheme, Strengthening Surgical Capacity, our country programmes in Zambia and Somaliland) so we knew that there were experiences and results out there that would be valuable not only to the health partnership community, but the partnership movement more broadly.  With the call for evidence ever-present from donors and other stakeholders, a series in a peer-reviewed journal was an exciting opportunity to bring together evidence, insights, critiques, and lessons learned, and to explore health partnerships in detail.  The Sustainable Development Goals, with their many health related objectives, provide the broader context for this series.  Notably, SDG 3 ‘ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages’ sets out the vision for universal health coverage and THET believes that health partnerships have a significant  contribution to make to achieving UCH, as described in our UHC Discussion Paper. 

Overall, we were delighted by the number of responses to the call for papers as well as by the breadth of countries, specialisms, and institutions represented; authors hail from Africa, Europe, North America, and South America. The editorial by Andrew Jones – Envisioning a Global Health Partnership Movement –  introduces many of the papers featured in this first issue and these are just the start; with the level of interest shown to date, there will be more issues released in 2016 and we hope well into 2017 too.  Full information on the series and how to submit a paper is available here.

THET is in a privileged position: we give training, advice, and grants to health worker training projects; and we run capacity development programmes in Somaliland and Zambia. We provide a flexible framework for people to work together effectively and responsively for the longer term.  Our wealth of knowledge about health partnerships and partnership working is down to the practitioners whose rich experiences inform our approach and develop our understanding of how best to support them.  We provide training and advice in monitoring, evaluation and learning because partnerships face challenges in tracking the difference they make, such as poor data and limited resources.  We develop resources to improve the quality of health partnerships, from case studies, to guidelines, manuals, and webinars that bring practitioners together in real-time.  In 2016, in addition to continuing this special series in Globalization and Health, THET will bring together researchers interested in the mechanisms, efficiency, and effectiveness of health partnerships, to agree a research agenda and explore opportunities for multidisciplinary work.  This is the next step in our commitment to developing the rigorous evidence base for health partnerships as an effective response to global health needs.

To find out more about THET’s work visit our website, read the special series in Globalization and Health or contact a member of the team –  You can submit a paper to the journal at any time as this is a rolling, on-going series.  For more information about how you can submit a paper to the series, visit the Globalization and Health website:

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Getting senior leaders' support for your health partnership

How health partnerships get active support from senior leaders in their partner institutions and beyond

Photo: Anne Jennings

All health partnerships work with the approval of institution leaders, but some go further and win active support from senior leaders in their institutions and beyond. We recently asked some HPS-funded health partnerships to explain how they’ve been able to do that. Here’s what they told us.

  • Getting the active involvement of senior leaders in a health partnership project can take time but makes a partnership stronger in the long term. Senior leaders are in a position to delegate partnership work to other staff, embedding it in an institution, while retaining responsibility.

  • Health partnerships that make an effort to keep senior managers informed of their work are more likely to get support from those managers when they need it, for granting leave requests for volunteers or helping a partnership team get cooperation from other teams in a hospital. One engaged senior manager can share updates with senior colleagues and networks through formal reporting channels such as management meetings. If there are changes in a senior leadership team, it is important for a partnership to engage early on with new managers who can influence their work.

  • LMIC partners may visit the UK, or other LMIC countries (in the case of partnerships with more than one LMIC), for training or planning. Sometimes they are accompanied by government staff or other health sector leaders. These visits are a great opportunity for the leaders of the visited institution to meet health workers and leaders from overseas, and for the partnership to raise the profile of its work.

  • Looking beyond the partner institutions, some health partnerships have made an effort to engage the MoH in the LMIC country, by keeping them informed about their project or inviting them to join a project steering committee. Others have aimed to influence the health agenda at a governmental level. They have found success through aligning with existing advocacy networks and opportunities, and using all their contacts to make connections with supportive individuals in Ministries of Health.

“Support from senior leadership,” as described here by health partnerships, includes a diversity of activity by various individuals. If there is a common theme, it is the importance of investing time and effort to build relationships as early as possible – rather than waiting until you need the support of a senior manager or leader.

Thanks to all the health partnerships that have contributed to this list.

Do you have other lessons to share? Please add them in the comments below. 

Dan Ritman - @danonuke
Evaluation & Learning Manager - THET