GHF2010 – PS38 – International Hospital Partnerships: Key To Capacity Development

Session Outline

Parallel session PS38, Wednesday, April 21 2010, 14:00-15:30, Room 13
Chair(s): Eric De Roodenbeke, Chief Executive Officer, International Hospital Federation, France
Summary: Hospital partnerships are contributing to the improvement of health care quality around the world. Their potential, however, remains to be fully tapped in terms of aligning the various stakeholders' perspectives, improving coordination, and learning from past initiatives. This panel discussion gathers representatives of hospital networks from developed and developing countries, development partners, and NGOs, aiming to correctly identify hospital partnership actors, the target of their partnerships, and how these fit within development strategies. Offering a panel of hospital partnerships across the world, this session aims to extract those elements that are key to improving capacity development and rendering partnerships more effective.
Panel: Pia Mac Rae, Chief Executive, Tropical Health and Education Trust (THET), United Kingdom, Muriel Dubreuil, Network Advisor, GIP ESTHER, France, Pierre Dayer, Medical Director, Geneva University Hospitals, Switzerland, Vincent Djientcheu, Professor, Department of Neurosurgery, Central Hospital Yaoundé, Cameroon

Session Documents

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Session Report

Submitted by: Antonia Chapman Nyaho (ICVolunteers); Contributors: Nan Hsin Chang (ICVolunteers)

Photo by John Brownlee, ICVolunteers.org

The discussion on international hospital partnerships as a key to capacity development is very pertinent to this year's Global Health Forum globalisation theme. Issues such as: the motivation behind partnerships, visibility, the importance of human contact and the partner's contribution in its quest to improve health care, were addressed with regard to how partnerships fit within the development framework.

The session’s focus was to identify hospital partnerships actors, their targets and explain how these co-operations fit within development frameworks. The panel was divided into two groups: the ‘front liners’ (hospitals and practitioners) and the ‘policy makers’ (development partners). This dichotomy allowed the panellists not only to present their own experiences on partnerships, but also to discuss its importance from different perspectives.

Pia Mac Rae, of Tropical Health and Education Trust (THET), a UK based NGO explained that THET is an example of the importance of partnerships as a vital source of funding and support. THET’s goal is to build long-term health capacity by training medical students, by providing the necessary links to bigger institutions and channelling expertise to the areas where it is needed. At least a hundred links exist and the THET’s goal is to continue capacity building and maintenance of long term relations.

Network Advisor for GIP ESTHER, France, Muriel Dubreuil,explained that ESTHER was developed from a political decision by the French Ministry of Health. ESTHER’S goals are very specific: it fights HIV/AIDS from a governmental perspective; it develops hospital capacities; it focuses on structuring the right environment to deal with HIV/AIDS; and it allows information exchange and the setting up of common approaches to manage the disease. Despite ESTHER's specificity, it also serves as a facilitating tool because it combines ideas and technical capacity to create tools. Today, ESTHER is pushing for the decentralisation of HIV care in order to facilitate partnerships and the delivery of the much needed aid. Mrs. Dubreuil then emphasised that individual motivation plays an important role because it serves as an impetus for partnerships. However, there is a need for balance between individual motivation and partnerships as they need expertise and a framework. To conclude partnerships are an important factor within the development framework.

Medical Director at Geneva University Hospitals, Switzerland, Pierre Dayer represented the ‘front-liner’s’ perspective. Geneva University Hospitals’ multiple medical divisions and huge personnel make achieving a constant pace of knowledge development difficult. Furthermore, Geneva’s small size makes partnerships critical as it allows the performance of high level and up-to-date work, thus creating much needed global vision. Moreover, Mr. Dayer stressed the importance of thinking of health in the long term.

Dr. Hippolyte Agboton is aProfessor and representative of RESEAOC, an African Network linking hospitals in mainly francophone African countries. He explained that RESEAOC was initially funded by France, but today it has Caribbean and countries from the Indian Ocean as partners. In Dr. Agboton’s view, partnering is important as it allows hospitals to exchange information and to solve communication problems. He admitted evaluating these partnerships is a difficult task to accomplish daily, nevertheless it is important. Furthermore, needs must be properly assessed and goals properly set. There is a need to mobilise politicians and to create a sub-regional organisation to facilitate health issues at a national level. To conclude, partnerships are important because they allow an organisation to come out of isolation, to think together and to transfer technology.

Last, but not least Vincent Djientcheu, Professor of the Department of Neurosurgery, Central Hospital Yaoundé, Cameroon, made an assessment of the situation from the hospitals’ perspective. The importance of exchange was present within the creation of the first hospitals in Cameroon. There had been a change in partnership from the past unilateral relationship with the colonisers to the present bilateral relationship which is today a source of reciprocity. The speaker gave examples of how partnerships are an important factor in trying to bring adequate health services to the population. Technology access is important as it enables sharing of information from secondary medical facilities to primary health care workers. This aggregation of ideas, combined with the powerful demand for better services, can then be presented to governments. The harmonisation of procedures from the sub-regional level then became national guidelines. Mr. Djientcheu then addressed the issue of results: a donor may consider something to be a failure which the beneficiary might see as a success. Therefore looking at things from all perspectives is a requirement. He concluded by emphasising the need for patience, partnerships are important, but human contact between partners is also a key factor. Human contact, he stressed, gives partnerships a more humane face.

All participants emphasised the need for these partnerships and their importance.

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