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