The International Development Committee (IDC) of the UK parliament recently invited written submissions from interested organisations and individuals on the UK's response to the Ebola crisis. The Committee is examining what DFID and the international community is doing to improve the international response for future disease outbreaks.
In answer to the question ‘What can be done to address such issues in the future?’ THET asked the members of the Committee to consider the following:
- The national and international responses to the Ebola epidemic highlight the important task of building resilience into health systems for the longer term. We have all seen the crucial role played by volunteers from the UK health sector in response to the crisis. Greater emphasis now needs to be placed on supporting and training health workers (in those affected regions and beyond) for the longer term, building preventative capacity and ensuring that countries have a health workforce that is fit for purpose.
- Health partnerships access the vast pool of expertise available within the UK healthcare sector to strengthen health worker training, professional institutions and standards. THET can demonstrate the validity of the health partnership approach in a range of contexts, including the role these collaborations can play in infection prevention and control and patient safety. While health partnerships are not designed to form part of an aid response, they are also proving valuable in humanitarian situations as they already have an established network of relationships and ‘a presence on the ground’.
- The International Development Committee’s (IDC) report on DFID’s work on strengthening developing country health systems commends HPS but it also says that its level of funding is ‘a drop in the ocean’. THET anticipates that existing and forthcoming research and evaluation from our own work and by DFID will constitute a ‘proof of concept’ for health partnerships. We will be seeking a marked increase in funding for the partnership approach, arguing that this will enable DFID to make a significant contribution to achieving universal health coverage (SDG3) and also prevent and manage infections such as Ebola.