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THET’S Commitment to Improving Primary Health Care

25 October 2018


In 1978, health experts and world leaders came together in Almaty, Kazakhstan, to commit to the goal of providing primary health care for all. Today, forty years on, the world is meeting to recommit itself to this goal.

THET agrees that primary health care is a vital building block in the road to achieving Universal Health Coverage (UHC).  For thirty years, THET has worked to achieve this goal through our model of health partnerships; a model, endorsed by the World Health Organization, which brings together health institutions in the UK with their counterparts in low and middle-income countries, in long-term partnerships characterised by mutual learning.[1]


Today however, we understand more clearly than ever before, the importance of focusing not just on the availability of care, but also on the quality of care. Through our work across 31 countries in Africa and Asia, THET is acutely aware that many people are let down by health services that are delivering inadequate clinical care to patients.[2] That is why we especially welcome the emphasis being placed at Astana, on growing the links between primary health care and other health services, including hospitals and specialized services, so that those at the frontline of care are well supported and working with access to the best expertise and knowledge the world has to offer. This ambition is at the heart of THET’s work and of the health partnership approach.

THET will continue to commit itself and our partners to the ambition of expanding access to quality primary health care for all.

[1] http://www.who.int/servicedeliverysafety/twinning-partnerships/en/
[2] https://blogs.bmj.com/bmj/2018/07/05/universal-quality-healthcare-coverage-a-commitment-to-building-a-healthier-and-more-productive-society/

CASE STUDY: Our work in Ethiopia

THET’s work in Ethiopia serves as an example of how the charity is contributing to the development of quality primary care services. With a population of over 100 million and approximately 80% living in rural areas Ethiopia struggles with a poor health status[3].

Our work began in the early 1990s on the invitation of the Deans of the Jimma and Gondar Medical Schools who sought help with the training and education of their specialist and trainee doctors.

Over these decades, a strong partnership has formed between these medical schools, THET, and staff from the University of Southampton and Queen’s University Belfast.

Our programme is focused on the delivery of care to people living in remote areas with non-communicable diseases (NCDs). We have developed the capacity of nurses and Health Extension Workers (HEWs) in rural health centres to raise awareness of, diagnose, treat and care for patients with NCDs. In doing so, we have both strengthened the links between the Medical Schools and patients living in rural communities and decentralised care away from the university hospitals that are too far away for rural patients to access without great cost.


To date we have provided decentralised care to 17 health centres across Jimma and Gondar and have registered over 7,700 NCD patients at the health centres where they now receive long-term solutions.

Our work has been accompanied by research and evidence-informed policymaking. We advised the Ethiopian Government on the development of their NCD Strategy in 2014 and, most recently, in September 2018 we convened a meeting with Federal Ministry officials and stakeholders from across sectors to review the Ministry’s response to the Lancet Commission on NCDs report as part of our new partnership which will extend NCD care across 60 sites; 15 primary hospitals and 45 rural health centres, by March 2020.

Further information: www.thena-ethiopia.org 

[3] https://www.who.int/countries/eth/coop_strategy/en/index1.html


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