THET’s latest report highlights a new model for overseas development

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Friday, 2 December 2016

‘Health is global’. It is with this powerful statement that Professor Dame Sally C. Davies, Chief Medical Officer, opens her foreword to the report In Our Mutual Interest, recently published by the Tropical Health and Education Trust (THET), the global health organisation I have the honour to work for.

In an era in which governments and civil society organisations are working together to achieve the vision of a world where everyone can access healthcare without incurring financial hardship, traditional approaches to overseas aid are giving way to new forms of development. This involves new sources of finance and new partnerships, which speak to the concepts of mutual benefit, co-development and co-learning.

The health partnership movement is at the forefront of this approach, enabling countries to work more collaboratively and at scale. In the past six years, the £30 million DFID Health Partnership Scheme, managed by THET, has had a huge impact abroad, helping to save lives.

In Our Mutual Interest shares the learning acquired by THET over many years working at the heart of the health partnership movement. Examining the opportunities and challenges associated with the health partnership approach, the report points to the huge benefit that can be derived by both the UK and our partners and governments overseas when the right balance is struck between our own organisational and national interest, and the interest of people living in some of the world’s poorest countries.

Contributing to the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal 3 (SDG3) presents a golden opportunity for the UK to demonstrate its leadership and expertise in health systems strengthening, through both the leadership of the Department for International Development (DFID) in international development, and through the experience, expertise and lessons that can be drawn out of the NHS and the UK health system more widely.

In Our Mutual Interest provides clear answers to the challenges the UK development community currently faces and shows that despite the critics, the UK gets great value from its overseas aid spending. The report encourages the UK Government to scale up its investment in health partnership programmes, recognising the particular value they hold as a tool for strengthening health systems in low- and middle-income countries whilst also advancing the UK’s national interests.

The time is right to support this progressive model of development. One that I believe can have a profound, positive effect on healthcare around the world.

Ben Simms is CEO of THET

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