Tuesday, 7 March 2017


THET needs to become more conscious about how, if at all, our work is advancing gender equality. 2017 is the year we will achieve this.

Our approach is centred on the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) we have developed for THET this year. Alongside the necessary data we gather to track the performance of our programme, grants-making and policy work, we will ask ourselves one overarching impact question: how is our work accelerating gender equality? 

We will use this question to drive individual and organisational learning across our six offices, commissioning external evaluations, gathering case studies and data and, by the end of the year, publishing our findings publicly. This will be an honest and critical assessment of how well we are faring, and how we can become still more systematic going forward. Collaborating with our partners across the health partnership community will be critical in achieving this.

We already have a certain awareness of how gender influences who delivers health services and who benefits from them. In a recent staff meeting on this theme examples were plentiful and various: from an obstetrician who ran clinical training on reproductive and maternal and neonatal health, to women who needed consent from their male relatives to undergo surgical procedures. 
But this focus is perhaps made even more urgent in 2017 given the position being taken by the US under the leadership of President Trump, and especially his gagging order concerning funding for abortion or post-abortion care. Never has the phrase ‘one step forward, two steps back’ seemed so applicable.

It is also an area highlighted for greater consideration in the recent DFID-commissioned evaluation of the Health Partnerships Scheme and of course, we cannot talk about the Sustainable Development Goals without thinking about gender equality, the phrase ‘No one gets left behind’, alongside health.
This process is being championed across THET by one of our Trustees, Professor Irene Leigh. A Gender Equality Working Group has been established to steer our progress. Written guidance to help us consider gender equality in programme planning and monitoring is being developed by our Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning Team and we have  commissioned two studies into how partnerships’ approach gender equality and an analysis of the populations who use the health services and facilities partnerships work to strengthen. 

This is an exciting and vital area of consideration for THET. If you would like to stay in touch or contribute to this process, please get in touch: info@thet.org

Ben Simms

Raising the Profile of Family Planning in Uganda

Clare Goodhart, USHAPE Clinical Lead, reflects on the progress made in the partnership between the Royal College of General Practitioners and Bwindi Community Hospital, Uganda. Over the last two years they have been working to strengthen the capacity of the health-system in South-West Uganda to promote sexual and reproductive health. 

The World Health Organization (WHO) states that family planning and the use of contraception have led to a reduction in the transmission of HIV/AIDS, reduces the need for unsafe abortion and prevents the deaths of mothers and children.

'Promotion of family planning – and ensuring access to preferred contraceptive methods for women and couples – is essential to securing the well-being and autonomy of women, while supporting the health and development of communities.' WHO, 2016

In sub-Saharan Africa, their remains an acute need to raise the profile of family planning, not least in rural Uganda.

USHAPE (Uganda Sexual Health and Pastoral Education) is a THET funded project which has been addressing local misconceptions that act as barriers to women controlling their fertility.

‘We have been using a novel ‘whole institution approach’ to raise the profile of family planning which is taken for granted in most continents of the world. Through the ‘Training of Trainers’ model we are able to provide Ugandan health workers with the knowledge to go on and teach more nurses and midwives, both pre-service and in-service, as family planning providers and advocates. This approach is currently being adopted by three rural nursing schools in south-west Uganda. Staff and students develop their confidence by training community health workers and teachers who are then able to take messages directly out into the community.

Babrah, a young midwife is one of twelve USHAPE trainers, and 150 new providers in south-west Uganda. Her contagious enthusiasm for USHAPE is ensuring that all women who pass through the maternity wards are given a clear idea about how to nurture their new baby, by spacing the next pregnancy. She goes further than this by volunteering to teach at youth outreach events in remote villages, and is now personally supporting a thirteen year girl in her ambition to return to education.

Babrah is part of the USHAPE ambition to scale up training across south-west Uganda, but also the ambition to benefit specific individuals.’

Clare Goodhart, 
USHAPE Clinical Lead,
Lensfield Medical Practice, UK

Somaliland: Health After War

In 2000, THET and Kings College Hospital (UK) began working with health training Institutions in Somaliland to improve the skills and knowledge of health care providers. THET works in partnership with health training Institutions, health professional associations and the Ministry of Health by harnessing invaluable experience of UK partners to improve the health care system.

Louise McGrath, Head of Programmes and Development at THET, travelled to Somaliland in January to discuss a new programme to strengthen health worker training in the region. Here follows her account.

I don’t cease to be amazed at what people can achieve,
even when faced with such adversity.

It had been well over a year since I was last in Somaliland, so I was very glad to touch down in Hargeisa at the end of January. I was arriving alongside a number of colleagues from Kings College London and Medicine Africa to hold discussions with national partners; three Somaliland Universities (Hargeisa, Amoud and Edna Adan), to agree the initial plans for the Kings led  Prepared for Practice programme. It is one of the first projects awarded under the DFID funded Strategic Partnerships Higher Education Innovation and Reform (SPHEIR) programme, managed by the British Council.

The project aims to strengthen the training of doctors, nurses and midwives to ensure they are prepared for practice once they qualify. Running over five years it will focus on strengthening undergraduate education and faculties.

THET will support national partners to identify and develop any additional policies and regulations that need to be in place to guide effective oversight of health worker training. We will also be responsible for the security and logistics associated with the trips of the project team and volunteers.
During the course of the meetings, it was brilliant to see how much progress the Somaliland partners had already made and to see the commitment and energy that was invested in achieving the shared goals. I was particularly pleased to see the number of women amongst the faculty and students and hear how dedicated they were to contributing to their countries progress.

One thing the trip also served to highlight is just how far Somaliland has come in the short period since the war ended.  A number of people reminded us of the destruction that the war caused to institutions and to the population. I don’t cease to be amazed at what people can achieve, even when faced with such adversity.

The trip was also a valuable opportunity to spend time with our country team and agree what steps need to be taken in the coming months. All in all a very exciting time for our country team and our partners...

Louise McGrath
Head of Partnerships and Development,