Partnerships between UK hospitals and developing world hospitals can be mutually beneficial, according to an Public Health article published Online today by The Lancet. In the article, Andy Leather and colleagues from King's College Hospital and the Tropical Health and Education Trust (THET) in London, UK, describe the benefits of their partnership with hospitals in post-conflict Somaliland.
The civil war in Somaliland resulted in the destruction of most of the country's health care facilities and the mass migration or death of trained health workers. However, since the partnership with King's College Hospital/ THET was formed in 2000, health care in Somaliland has benefited in a number of ways. The country now has more trained nurses, physiotherapists, medical staff, and students, after King's doctors assisted with training. Poor patients now have improved access to drugs after the partnership established a drug fund in a hospital in Somaliland's capital. The link-up has also led to the targeting of 40 000 Somali people with publicity materials and awareness-raising events on health facilities and issues.
The UK has also benefited from the partnership, state the authors. Health professionals from King's College Hospital/THET developed their communication, problem-solving, and leadership skills while visiting Somaliland. And after working with colleagues in Somaliland, who are faced daily with challenges, the visiting teams also returned to the UK with a renewed perspective on their own work and greater appreciation of the NHS. Such links can therefore help retain staff state the authors.
"Patients have also benefited from the enhanced skills, experience, and knowledge gained in Somaliland, particularly in obstetrics and midwifery, with the advanced pathology encountered," adds Dr Leather.
He concludes: "The ultimate objective of this programme is to rebuild capacity in Somaliland. However, the reason that this link works so well is that it is a true partnership for reciprocal benefit--a fundamental principle for any partnerships."
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