Advancing Global Health Partnerships at European Development Days

Posted by Eric Goosby
December 13, 2010
Global AIDS Coordinator Ambassador Goosby at European Development Days

About the Author: Ambassador Eric Goosby serves as U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator.

I recently attended the "European Development Days" meeting in Brussels, where I had the opportunity to meet with donor and country partners to discuss our shared health and development goals. Overall, I was encouraged by the desire for partnership and collaboration expressed by representatives of both multilateral and bilateral programs.

I spoke on a panel entitled, "Creating a Global Health Policy Worthy of the Name." I presented on President Obama's Global Health Initiative and its role in helping to maximize the impact of our health investments, in conjunction with countries and other partners. For me, three major themes emerged from the conference:

The need to strengthen health systems

There was much agreement on the need to use our resources to support partner governments in planning and implementing health programs, whether that is through a mechanism like the International Health Partnership Plus, which supports joint assessments of national health strategies, or PEPFAR's Partnership Frameworks, where the U.S. Government and the partner government outline commitment and activities over a five-year period. But there was also recognition that if governments are going to meet these roles, we must help them gain the capacity to adequately manage, oversee and eventually finance their health systems. To that end, there was much discussion of "technical collaboration," rather than "technical assistance." We need to work with governments and country counterparts as partners, supporting them to develop and maintain the necessary skills.

One example of the way in which we are doing this through PEPFAR is our Medical and Nursing Education Partnership Initiatives, which aim to transform African medical education and dramatically increase the number of health care workers. Through the medical initiative, the U.S. Government is awarding grants directly to African institutions in a dozen countries, working in partnership with U.S. medical schools and universities. The initiative will form a network including about 30 regional partners, country health and education ministries, and more than 20 U.S. collaborators. The goal is to dramatically transform African medical education to increase the number of qualified care providers available and develop the scientific expertise needed for research and innovation, empowering countries to lead health programs and fulfill their responsibility for the health of their people.

Ensuring that our collaborations are broad and multisectoral

There was recognition of the ways in which priority areas for our respective governments -- including food security and climate change -- intersect with the changes that we are hoping to make in the health sector. For example, efforts to improve yields in the agricultural sector not only reduce famine, but contribute to the nutritional gains of children. And addressing climate change and energy issues also helps to address conditions which are linked to environmental concerns, like the respiratory infections tied to indoor air pollution.

My European colleagues commended the United States for the work we are doing in these areas -- capturing the synergies around nutrition with both Feed the Future and the Global Health Initiative, as well as the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves public-private partnership that Secretary Clinton announced in September.

The power of collaboration

At the meeting, all expressed a desire to work together in a more coordinated fashion with local partners in the countries where we work. There was broad agreement that we needed to reduce duplication and emphasize our core advantages and strengths, whether they be service delivery, technical coordination, or capacity-building. We have already seen this take place in several countries, such as Nepal, where the U.S. Government is partnering with other donors around the government's Joint Financing Agreement. The meeting provided a good venue to highlight the different types of partnerships -- both public and private -- that the U.S. Government is working on in the health sector, and dispel any notion that we seek to go it alone. Global health is a shared responsibility, and the discussion demonstrated that our partners are eager to join us in exploring how our collaborations can make our investments go even farther.

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