For over twenty-five years THET has been training health workers to build a world where everyone has access to affordable and quality healthcare.
When he first arrived on the coast of Nigeria with his wife Helen in 1960, the physician Eldryd Parry was not expecting to spend the majority of his career in Africa. He was only seconded for a year’s term there but he extended his stay by half a year. Having had a successful experience at the University College Hospital in Ibadan, the largest teaching hospital in West Africa at the time, Eldryd came back to the UK and took up academic work on health issues in Africa. What he noticed about British aid at the time was the lack of responsiveness. Rather, British aid was prescriptive and not decided by the countries in need, so in 1988 Eldryd founded the Tropical Health and Education Trust (THET).
The 1990s marked a period of gradual growth for THET. It was during this time that THET was starting to use Health Partnerships as a model of supporting local communities and Ministries of Health in Africa. Our work began as a result of requests from the Deans of the Jimma and Gondar Medical Schools for help with the development of the skills of their young specialist and trainee doctors. As a result, strong and enduring partnerships were formed with Nottingham and Leicester University Hospitals.
We soon realised that the rural patients, many of whom were very poor, needed care near their homes. So a programme of decentralised care at health centres around Jimma and Gondar, with training of local nurses and health officers, began; to date it has transformed the care of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) for rural people. Jimma and Gondar are now centres of excellence for decentralised care and the service continues to provide and expand its training for Health Extension Workers.
THET continues to grow and build on the relationships we have forged with health institutions and professionals around the world. We now have country presence in Ethiopia, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Somaliland and Myanmar in order to co-ordinate the huge range of health partnership work happening in those countries.
Over 25 years later, our work is still inspired by Professor Parry developed and his formative work in Africa – that project work should be responsive not prescriptive, and that if there is mutual trust and a willingness on both sides to learn from each other, then good work will happen. This is the philosophy that THET is built on and one that we will continue to promote as we move forward.