Strengthening healthcare service in developing countries

Published On: December 7, 2023 07:30 AM NPT By: Dr. Pushpa R. Joshi

In an era where global collaboration is paramount, organizations like the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ) have played a vital role in supporting developing countries in their pursuit of robust healthcare systems. One of GIZ’s flagship initiatives, the Hospital Partnerships Program, stands out as a beacon of hope for nations striving to enhance their healthcare sectors since 2016. An initiative of the German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development and the Else Kroener Fresenius Foundation, this program serves as a testament to Germany's commitment to international development and the promotion of sustainable healthcare practices worldwide, especially in underdeveloped and developing countries.

The Hospital Partnerships Program is a collaborative effort between German hospitals, universities, colleges, and non-governmental organizations and healthcare institutions in developing countries with the motto - partners strengthen health. This initiative aims to strengthen the healthcare systems in developing and underdeveloped nations by fostering partnerships, exchanging knowledge, and building capacity. By leveraging the expertise and resources of German hospitals and health care experts, the program empowers healthcare professionals in partner countries, equipping them with the skills and tools necessary to deliver high-quality health care to their communities.

As of yet, 400 hospital partnerships have been established, involving professionals from German healthcare institutions collaborating, conducting research, and learning alongside their partners from 66 countries in the Global South. This collaborative effort has proven highly beneficial, impacting over 3,000 medical professionals in both Germany and partner countries. The mutual exchange of knowledge and expertise is found to create a positive ripple effect, fostering a shared commitment to advancing healthcare globally.

The program is designed to enhance global health care systems by fostering enduring and sustainable partnerships. These collaborations align with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), with a particular focus on Goal 3, "Good Health and Well-being," and Goal 17, "Partnerships for the Goals." As part of the program, Hospital Partners actively participate in diverse professional and regional networking and exchange formats. This engagement empowers them to enhance their expertise in international cooperation and collaborative learning. The GIZ team provides guidance on project management, communication, and administration to support their initiatives.

The program’s primary objectives revolve around capacity building, knowledge transfer, and infrastructure development within the healthcare sector of partner countries. The program facilitates training sessions, workshops, and exchange programs for healthcare professionals in partner countries. These initiatives cover various medical disciplines, ensuring that local staff members are up-to-date with the latest advancements in their fields.

In addition, GIZ supports the development and improvement of healthcare infrastructure in partner countries. This includes upgrading medical facilities, providing essential medical equipment, and implementing efficient management systems to enhance the overall healthcare delivery process. GIZ also assists partner countries in implementing quality assurance mechanisms, protocols, and standards, aligning their healthcare practices with international benchmarks. Hospital partnerships program also emphasizes preventive healthcare measures and health promotion campaigns, addressing prevalent diseases and promoting healthy lifestyles within local communities.

Over the years, the Hospital Partnerships Program has yielded far-reaching benefits, significantly impacting partner countries. This success stems from the program's focus on enhancing the skills and knowledge of local healthcare professionals, resulting in elevated standards of patient care and improved outcomes. Reports from the Hospital Partners affirm that patients in partner hospitals enjoy enhanced access to superior diagnosis, treatment, and follow-up services.

Furthermore, the knowledge transfer and capacity-building initiatives have played a pivotal role in the sustainable development of healthcare sectors in partner countries. Empowered local professionals are not only able to pursue continuous education but also mentor future generations, ensuring a lasting positive influence. The program's contribution extends to the overall improvement of community health in partner countries through enhanced healthcare services and robust disease prevention initiatives. This has led to healthier populations, reduced morbidity rates, and increased life expectancy.

Beyond these tangible outcomes, the program has facilitated high-impact international collaboration and understanding. By fostering a sense of shared responsibility among nations, the program encourages the exchange of ideas and best practices to collectively address global healthcare challenges. In doing so, it has become a catalyst for positive change, promoting a healthier and more interconnected world.

Hospital Partnerships in Nepal

Since the launch of the Hospital Partnerships program in 2016, a total of fifteen diverse projects across ten different hospital and healthcare facilities in Nepal have been successfully established. These projects span a wide range of fields, including academic exchanges focusing on cleft and burn cases, clinical studies addressing persistent eosinophilia in children, diagnostic and treatment interventions for post-TB sequelae, stroke project aimed at delivering basic stroke care to every individual in Nepal, initiatives to enhance sanitation and hygiene processes in various hospitals, and efforts to strengthen the diagnosis of chronic respiratory diseases. As the outreach of the program is expanding in Nepal, new innovative projects are expected in the future.

Recently, the inaugural networking meeting of German Hospital partners engaged in diverse healthcare projects in Nepal took place in Kathmandu. Attended by representatives from the German Embassy, the Ministry of Health and Population (MoHP), the World Health Organization (WHO), local and central GIZ offices, and local stakeholders, the event served as a platform for valuable interaction, knowledge exchange, and idea-sharing among the Hospital partners. This meeting not only fostered collaboration but also paved the way for prospective new partnerships, identifying emerging areas within healthcare services that could benefit from support by the hospital partners.

Having personally attended the meeting and presented my project before the distinguished delegates, I am hopeful that the worthy cooperation between various stakeholders will thrive, ultimately benefiting healthcare facilities in Nepal through these collaborations. My participation proved to be fruitful as I secured commitments for support from several hospital partners, including representatives from the Ministry of Health and Population (MoHP) and the World Health Organization (WHO). This has enabled our team to strengthen the collaborations with our partner hospitals in the long run.

To conclude, the German Hospital Partnerships program supported by the GIZ stands as a shining example of international cooperation and solidarity. By supporting healthcare sectors in developing countries, this initiative not only saves lives but also contributes significantly to the achievement of sustainable development goals. As Germany continues to extend its expertise and resources, the program paves the way for a healthier, more equitable world, where quality healthcare is accessible to all, regardless of geographical or economic constraints. In fact, developing countries like Nepal stand to gain significant benefits from this program. Therefore, the establishment of more hospital partnerships with German counterparts is crucial as this initiative holds the potential to enhance healthcare facilities in Nepal thereby contributing to the achievement of the healthcare goals outlined in the SDG 2030.

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