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What difference is Scotland making to global health?

25 September 2017

This was the question addressed at the Towards Global Citizenship Symposium, hosted by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow (RCPSG) earlier this month.

Our CEO Ben Simms spoke alongside Lord Nigel Crisp and Professor Evarist Njelesani in the opening plenary and in this blog, Ben reflects on the outstanding success of Scotland and their global health work through the Health Partnership Scheme (HPS).

Towards Global Citizenship Symposium on September 15th was an outstanding event. Brilliantly executed by the RCPSG and, impressively, organised with the full backing of Scotland’s health and international development community. It has surely broken new ground in Scotland’s distinguished history of involvement with Africa.

Over the past seven years, Scotland has secured funding for 27 health partnerships from the Health Partnership Scheme (HPS), a number only surpassed by London. We have been following the incredible impact these partnerships have been having globally, as our latest Impact Report highlights: 84,000 health workers trained across 31 countries by over 130 institutions from across the UK.

The Symposium demonstrated the ways in which Scottish health workers and academics have been blazing a trail, improving health in dozens of areas, from burns to fistula repair, palliative to cervical cancer care.

A great part of my excitement in speaking at the symposium was to be able reinforce THET’s support to an increasingly exciting Scottish policy environment – look no further than Global Citizenship: Scotland’s International Development Strategy which shows how Scottish Official Development Assistance continues to mature and develop.

A milestone in this discussion has been Stuart Ferguson and Mike McKirdy’s report Global Citizenship in the Scottish Health Service and the creation of the Scottish Global Health Collaborative, two initiatives THET has been instrumental in supporting. The day illustrated the potential within Scotland to further the health partnership approach at a speed which should be an example to the rest of the UK. It can be innovative, flexible and is driven by strong values and the learning it has acquired from the administration of its own international development strategy.

Following on from a speech by Lord Crisp, I explored the role health partnerships are playing in accelerating bidirectional learning between the global south and north – a vision of co-development that firmly recognises the expertise residing in Africa and Asia.

I was also pleased to share the learning captured in our latest report In Our Mutual Interest, which distils over seven years’ experience of managing the Health Partnership approach. As the report itself does, I called for vigilance in the application of this approach; emphasising the need to strike the right balance between our own organisational or national interest, and the benefit given to host institutions and countries overseas.

It was a day I will long remember as a true celebration of the work health partnerships do. I am excited that our presence in Scotland continues to grow and I very much look forward to the next moment the health partnership community comes together to share learning, at the THET Conference in London this October, and then once again in Scotland in 2018.

To view Ben’s full presentation please click here.

This post was written by:

Ben Simms - CEO

1 Comment

  • Eunice Sinyemu
    29 Sep 2017 13:29
    Very uplifting speech Ben and great that it focused on Scotland's key role in global health.

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