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Partnerships in a time of COVID-19

6 April 2021


COVID-19 has been described as not only a health crisis, but an economic and social one. This conference is all about partnership and it is evident that we cannot achieve anything without partnerships. Humans are naturally inclined to feel sympathy and empathy for others. This humanity has enabled us to master the planet and do great things on this planet. This humanity drives our partnerships.

We live in a globalised world. COVID-19 has made it evident that a problem in one corner of the world is a problem across the world. Therefore, we have no choice but to partner and ensure that the world is a better place. This is what the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are about, it is what universal health coverage (UHC) is about. The SDGs themselves are interdependent and interconnected and we have to work as partners – through various sectors and countries – to achieve them. An African proverb says “If you want to go fast , you can go alone. But if you really want to go far, go together.” Let us not move away from partnerships, let us continue to build and strengthen the way we work together. Partnership is a must.

The partnerships spoken about in this conference have worked well and they have been facilitated by social phenomena such as the post-Industrial Revolution and technological advancements. Thanks to them, we have still been able to make our partnerships work, despite not being able to travel from place to place. Above all, the conversations had in the conference were about health workers. We talked about how technology enables them, we spoke about advocacy in COVID-19, compassion and so on. What strikes me is that while health workers are taught to care about other people, we are not taught to care about ourselves. We assume that those we serve will care for us. Now is time to change this.

2021 is the International Year of Health and Care Workers. Let us not let it pass without something changing, something big happening that enables us to better organise as health workers to serve the people. We cannot serve if we are not given the support, incentives, and environment that we need. We are the people that will push for this change. For this to happen, I have thought about three actions that must be done:

  1. Build leadership for health workers. There is a gap, and we need to have leadership at national, sub-national, and community levels. We must organise ourselves so that we are in touch with our communities, so that we can form a triangle that moves mountains. One corner of the triangle is what are the needs of the people? The other corner is what are the solutions to the needs of the people – these solutions are thereby generated by experts such as academics, local communities, health professionals etc. If knowledge-generators worked closely with communities to understand the needs of the people and stood alongside each other when presenting solutions to policymakers (the third corner of the triangle), politicians would feel more inclined to implement those solutions.
  2. Provide a voice for health workers. There is a need for an independent voice that can speak truth to power authoritatively and without fear on behalf of health workers.

  3. Follow-up from the conversations had today. The conversation does not end here. Talk to each other, come up with an action plan and initiate change.


This post was written by:

Dr Francis Omaswa - Executive Director, ACHEST


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