26 April 2019
The end of March was a symbolic moment in the health partnership movement. The eight year Health Partnership Scheme (HPS) came to its conclusion. We were able to pause and take stock of the incredible achievements and positive change the Scheme has brought to being.
In eight years, over 93,112 health workers have been trained across 30 countries.
Through 210 projects, working in 30 countries, we have seen that health partnerships contribute in a variety of ways to the strengthening of health systems. A core contribution of most health partnerships has of course been working together to strengthen the health workforce in a multitude of ways and areas – this has ranged from strengthening mental health care in Uganda, improving paediatric cancer services in Myanmar strengthening surgical and anaesthesia capacity in eastern and southern Africa. However, it has also been remarkable to see and learn just how much health partnerships are working to strengthen other aspects of the health system, not least the leadership and management of the health system, but also working to strengthen the supply and management of equipment and resources for the provision of health care.
During this last phase of the HPS (2017-2019) we have paid particular attention to three points:
In addition to strengthening health systems and the health workforce in the LMICs, we know that the engagement in health partnerships is also valuable to UK health workers. Over 90,000 days of volunteer time have been spent overseas, with
a further 12,000 contributed from the UK. From this, it has been possible to evidence that 5653 UK volunteers have improved clinical and leadership skills after their placements. However a recent study of returned volunteers commissioned by THET,
highlighted that many continue to face challenges in receiving institutional support to participate in health partnership projects and in embedding their learning and new capabilities upon their return.
The scheme concludes with a series of studies commissioned by DFID, which have deepened our understanding of how transformational health partnerships can be. One study noted that 74% of UK volunteers reported bringing back new approaches and techniques which can improve their practice in the UK. Whilst another found that 765
participating institutions in low and middle income countries are demonstrating a higher quality of specified health services.
These studies build on the insight from the independent evaluation commissioned by DFID in 2016 which found overwhelming evidence of the effectiveness of the partnership approach in strengthening the capacities of health workers and the institutions in which they work.
Taken together, they speak to a defining characteristic of the scheme: alongside delivering practical results, the individuals and institutions involved in the HPS have excelled at reflecting and learning. The THET-curated series of peer-reviewed
articles in Globalization and Health is testimony to this.
To further capture this success we have produced an Impact Report. The report tries to encompass the achievements, learning and of course the stories of the health workers who have benefited over the last eight years both in the UK and overseas.
Our Founder, Professor Sir Eldryd Parry, a long exponent of the health partnership approach, once wrote: ‘If there’s mutual trust and a willingness on both sides to learn from each other, a readiness to adapt and a readiness to try new things then good work will happen.’ And so, through the HPS, it has. – Ben Simms, CEO – THET