Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Global Health: From National Beginnings to International Partnerships

At the end of June we reached a milestone in the Health Partnership Scheme (HPS) which entered into its seventh year implementation. After six years of global health partnerships it is clear that the model has really come of age. The stats speak for themselves.


In 2011, at the inception of the programme the target was to train 13,000 overseas health workers by 2015. In those four years over 38,000 had been trained and by June this year, following a two year extension over 84,000 health workers had been trained through projects in 31 countries. Impressive HPS figures abound but perhaps the next one to stagger me is that over 90,000 days were spent by UK health workers volunteering.  

This is the true legacy of the HPS and it is sure to be one which only continues to go from strength to strength. There is more engagement from UK institutions than ever before. During the programme over 130 NHS and Health and Academic Institutions from across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland formed partnerships with their counterparts in low- and middle-income countries, not only delivering invaluable training but also bringing improved skill sets, clinical knowledge and management experience back to an  NHS system facing many challenges.

Health Partnerships beyond the Health Partnership Scheme

The partnership model has also spread well beyond its original parameters with more funding approaches taking up the method than ever before. From Hub Cymru Africa to the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow, several initiatives are strengthening and furthering the development of UK country and regional approaches to global health development. But it is not just the health partnership community which continues to expand the model, other DFID funding mechanisms are also incorporating the shared value element, and even further afield beyond the UK, organisations in the USA and in Europe are employing these methods.

The NHS - A global force

It is clear that health partnerships are contributing to the NHS’ positioning as a global force, providing a blueprint for other activity, including commercial opportunities which could see the NHS derive an income from engaging overseas. With such a wealth of knowledge harboured in the NHS, one such opportunity could, in the future, come from the deployment of UK health workers to middle and high income countries to assist with paid health system strengthening programmes.

Where once the development community was sceptical of ideas of ‘aid to trade’, it becoming increasingly clear that ODA spending can work to serve the interests of all, both overseas development aims and the wider interests of the UK. 

In Myanmar for example, as the nation continues to move forward with its own complex evolution, new and exciting opportunities are springing up for the UK health care sector to share knowledge and expertise with their local counterparts. From growing private sector investment particularly in the provision of medicines and equipment, to the development of training schemes and curricula o meet the depleted medical education system within the country. I am following with excitement our own expanding in-country presence with Health Education England.

A motor for innovation

A feature of this coming of age are the very diverse approaches that are emerging in the UK. From the dedicated global health policies in Wales to the specialised and thematic programmes within Northern Ireland, each nation is demonstrating innovation and impetus in their devolved states.

In England alone, regional actors are playing catalytic roles in fostering greater engagement. From the East of England where just a few weeks ago Anglia Ruskin University held a Sustainable Health Symposium bolstering the growing body of NHS Trusts and Universities taking up global health programmes, to the North West  where the Universities of Manchester and Salford together with the Global Health Exchange continue to forge new learning and volunteer engagement programmes, to Wessex where the Improving Global Health Leadership Development Programme is recruiting NHS volunteers to work with their counterparts in low-resource settings.

In this newsletter we start the task of ‘spotlighting’ this diversity. From the blog, interview and article captured in this month’s edition it is clear that this is an exciting time for the UK and its global health contribution and one that all countries and regions can continue to collaborate on. It is truly an admirable environment taking shape across the UK and one that collectively amounts to a distinctive and profoundly impressive UK offering to the goal of UHC for all.


THET is proud to be playing a modest role in enabling this to happen.

Ben Simms
CEO
THET