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Partnerships in a Time of COVID-19 Conference Learning Points and Key Reflections

Over 400 people from 44 countries gathered for the second COVID Partnerships virtual conference on the 19th of March 2021.

This report documents the immense challenges involved. We discussed the inequality of access to vaccinations; the growing pressure on health workers, both physical and mental; the secondary impacts of COVID-19 on essential health services; as well as the direct ways in which we can support each other to respond to COVID-19 itself and learn for future pandemics. It also provides a roadmap for that recovery of energy and optimism which is so important to us. The Health Partnership approach will survive, not least because of the extraordinary work of the very many individuals involved.

Read the full report here

Webinar 1: Evaluating Institutional Health Partnerships Recording Available

Streamed on Friday 30 April 

Institutional Health Partnerships are important, and the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted their importance even more. At the same time it is important that these partnerships are truly equal, allowing for mutual learning. It is therefore important not only to evaluate the implementation of a specific project, but the quality of the partnership itself.  In this we webinar we invited our speakers to discuss the following:  

  • Why should we evaluate Institutional partnerships? 
  • How can we make the most of the results of such an evaluation? 
  • Lessons learnt from the partnerhips’ evaluation processes. 


  • Vicky Doyle, Director, Capacity Development International
  • Ahmed Razavi, Consultant in global public health and the Africa portfolio lead for the IHR Strengthening Project at Public Health England. 
  • David Weakliam, Global Health Programme Director in the Health Service Executive in Ireland. ESTHER Ireland 


New Website Launch - WHO COVID-19: Health Services Learning Hub

The WHO COVID-19: Health Services Learning Hub (HLH) is a dynamic new platform that uses innovative approaches to collate, document and synthesise emerging areas of learning on the maintenance of essential health services to support countries during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond, including the recovery and post-pandemic phase.

The HLH launched on April 1st 2021

Visit the Health Services Learning Hub here

Health Partnerships Webinar Series

The ESTHER Alliance for Global Health Partnerships is happy to launch a new webinar series that focuses on the learning drawn from the Institutional Health Partnership model. Every webinar, we will host speakers from diverse geographical and professional backgrounds to exchange expertise and knowledge on health partnerships’ evidence and case studies. The series targets individuals, healthcare professionals and organisations that work and are interested in health partnerships.

The first webinar of the series will be held on 30 April 2021, and the subsequent events will take place on the last Friday of every second month at 1:00 pm UK/ Irish time. Except for the December’s webinar, which will take place on the third Friday of the month. 

New Online Community Platform: Pulse!

We are pleased to announce the launch of the new Pulse platform in partnership with THET.

The Pulse community aims to create an online space for health partnerships to connect, create and collaborate with one another. Enabling the sharing of learning, project development and furthering a sense of community amongst Health Partnerships and volunteers. Pulse helps to create a world where health workers are empowered to grow and lead health systems strengthening worldwide.

Our community supports, protects, motivates and equips the global health workforce to deliver quality health care. 

Join the platform here

Central Project Evaluation: ESTHER University and Hospital Partnerships in Africa

Regional Program University and Hospital Partnerships in Africa​

Germany joined the ESTHER Alliance for Global Health Partnerships as early as 2004. Shortly thereafter, the ESTHER Germany Secretariat was established within GIZ. The Secretariat and the steering of several GIZ-funded health partnerships was hosted by the Programme to Foster Innovation, Learning and Evidence in HIV and Health Programmes of German Development Cooperation (PROFILE).

The specific object of this evaluation was the ESTHER Alliance University and Hospital Partnerships in Africa technical cooperation (TC) measure. The project was carried out by GIZ on behalf of BMZ. It had a duration of 3 years 6 months from June 2016 to November 2019 and an overall budget of EUR 4,000,000. It was originally designed as a standalone project until, in 2017, BMZ launched the Hospital Partnerships – Partners Strengthen Health initiative.

This included another TC measure with a similar partnership approach but different target institutions, funding modes and values, geographical focus, and selection criteria. Both projects were then coordinated under the common roof of the Hospital Partnerships initiative, even though both have maintained their conceptual and operational independence. The objective of the project was: The conditions for patient safety in selected African countries within the framework of institutional health partnerships (IHPs) are improved. The objective and its indicators were formulated before specific partnership projects were chosen. Therefore, the indicators did not specify changes in the partner countries but instead overarching result categories and the number of projects that contributed to them. These dimensions are (a) implementation of solutions for identified treatment errors, (b) implementation of training measures that address identified treatment errors and (c) international dissemination of knowledge products developed by the funded partnership projects.

Click on the photo below to read and download the full evaluation report:

thumbnail of GIZ Central project evaluation_2016.2035.0_ESTHER University and hospital partnerships in Africa_CRS12181

Click the photo below to read and download the executive summary: 

thumbnail of Summary_GIZ Central project evaluation_2016.2035.0_ESTHER University and hospital partnerships in Africa

Digital solutions offer hope of a breakthrough on an age-old challenge

University hospital partnerships tackle tuberculosis in Africa


A research team at Gabon’s venerable Centre de Recherches Médicales de Lambaréné (CERMEL) were mortified to discover that after six months, only 53% of 201 tuberculosis (TB) patients they had been following had successfully completed their treatment, and only 8% could be considered cured.

At Tanzania’s highly specialised Ifakara Health Institute (IHI), a team of Tanzanian and German researchers were struck by a communication gap between remote health facilities and tertiary-level hospitals which left many rural TB patients undiagnosed and untreated. In Madagascar, partners deplored the consequences of inefficient, paper-based data management for surveillance and treatment of TB patients and were frustrated by the lack of funds for daily operation of small treatment centres. Three situations, three complex issues calling for high-level scientific cooperation and operational research – could they be amenable to digital solutions?

‘University and Hospital Partnerships in Africa’ (HKP), which is implemented by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, was initiated in 2006 with a focus first on HIV/AIDS and later on patient safety by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). HKP is part of the ESTHER Alliance for Global Health Partnerships whose chair HKP assumes on behalf of the BMZ until December 2020. 

HKP provides substantial grants (averaging about 200,000 EUR for two years) to support partnerships on a specific topic between a German university hospital and an African university or teaching hospital. In its current phase, in line with BMZ’s ‘Digital Africa’ strategy, HKP focusses specifically on eHealth, and is supporting 13 partnerships in domains ranging from anti-microbial resistance, medical imaging at point of care and decentralised management of non-communicable diseases, to TB control and mother-child care. Promotion of equal opportunity, including training for African women in eHealth and leadership, is another priority of HKP and is a constant in all 13 partnerships.

Continue Reading Here


Results of the Patient Safety Programme for the Period between 2016 - 2019

Regional Program University and Hospital Partnerships in Africa

ESTHER Ireland took over the hosting of the General Secretariat of ESTHER Alliance for Global Health Partnerships and hired a Coordinator, Hala Ali, to carry out the General Secretariat’s activities with the support of Irish Global Health Network staff. 

Our partners: A network of global health experts and institutions

The regional program supports partnership projects between some of the most prestigious

university hospitals in Africa and in Germany. These institutions play a central role in the training of the health care professionals of the future and in state-to-art research in global health relevant topics such as infection prevention and control (IPC) or quality management in diverse clinical areas.


Click Here to Download the Flyer of the Results. 

The programme University and Hospital partnerships in Africa promotes public and non-profit institutions (colleges, universities, university clinics, teaching hospitals and research institutes in Germany) and institutions in the secondary together with tertiary care structure in African countries in sub-Saharan Africa. For more information visit: 


Deadline: 20th of June 2020!

GIZ’s University & Hospital Partnerships in Africa and the project “Empowering Women in Health Innovation” (WE Health) are teaming up to support African women in digital health. WE Health aims to enhance the participation of women in health innovation and entrepreneurial activities by providing capacity-building specifically tailored to their needs and by inspiring and supporting them to advance in their professional careers (

The WE Health Capacity Building program is composed of three modules with a different thematic focus area addressing the needs of diverse target groups of women in the healthcare domain. 


Send an email with your CV and a short motivation letter to:; so that we are informed and can support your application.

For Module 3 we will cover the transport cost for
selected women, in case it can take place face to face.

For Module 2 please register additionally under the following link:

The deadline for Module 2 is the 20th of June 2020.
If you have any further 

questions, please feel free to reach out to:

ESTHER Switzerland is opening a new Call for Proposals. ESTHER Switzerland uses the model of institutional health partnerships to foster effective north-south and south-south partnerships that can build capacity of the health workforce and health institutions and finally contribute to strengthen health systems and health outcomes.

The grants support two types of partnership, ESTHER partnership project grants and ESTHER start-up grants. Both types of grants are available to institutional health partnerships that include at least one health institution in Switzerland (preference is given to hospitals, universities and research institutions) and at least one health institution in a low or middle-income country.

Visit ESTHER Switzerland’s website to find all relevant documents for the Proposals (full Grant or Start-Up), and the Guidelines:


ESTHER Ireland took over the hosting of the General Secretariat of ESTHER Alliance for Global Health Partnerships and hired a Coordinator, Hala Ali, to carry out the General Secretariat’s activities with the support of Irish Global Health Network staff. 

For more information:

To improve patient care with innovative digital applications the University and Hospital Partnerships in Africa funding programme supports capacity development partnerships between health organisations in Sub-Saharan Africa and Germany. 13 eHealth projects between public hospitals on the secondary and tertiary care level and universities are funded with up to 300.000 Euros. The selected projects will start in January 2020 in 12 African countries and run over a period of 22 months. Digital solutions are diverse and range from information systems over eLearning tools to monitoring applications. The funding programme will closely accompany the chosen projects to facilitate the development of eHealth flagship projects and cooperation with the private sector. Please find more information about the funding programme here:

ESTHER Ireland is taking over the hosting of the ESTHER Alliance for Global Health Partnerships and is seeking a dynamic and capable Coordinator.

For more information: 

This film shows the Work of ESTHER Germany implemented by GIZ.

Selected partners from the “Hospital Partnerships – Partners Strengthen Health”-Initiative talk about their experience. They give insight into the way partnerships work and their own personal accomplishments and goals.

Our partners play a key role in making the initiative alive – watch the film about them here:

Improve your knowledge of the spread of antimicrobial resistance in Africa and how to reduce it.

Learn how to tackle antimicrobial resistance in Africa

Communicable diseases remain to be a leading cause of death in African countries (WHO). This course will look at the threat of antimicrobial resistance in Africa and how best to tackle it.

You’ll explore the burden of antimicrobial resistance in Africa and the importance of microbiology investigations in antibiotic therapy.

You’ll learn about antibiotic misuse and overuse as a driver of antimicrobial resistance and how to develop antibiotic guidelines.

Finally, you’ll evaluate the strategies that have been implemented in African hospitals and make more effective use of antimicrobials.

For more information click here.

What topics will you cover?

  • The global versus African burden of resistance, importance of microbiology investigations before or during antibiotic therapy
  • Antibiotic misuse and overuse as a driver of antimicrobial resistance
  • Strengthening the ICAN network to support stewardship and infection prevention
  • Basic interventions /tools to support stewardship
  • How to develop antibiotic guidelines and policies
  • Incorporating antimicrobial stewardship into hospital infection control programs
  • Using Education and feedback to change behaviour for antimicrobial stewardship and infection prevention and control

Starting January 7th

For more information click here.

The Hospital Partnerships – Partners Strengthen Health initiative systematically promotes partnerships between health care organizations in Germany and medical institutions in low and middle income countries. Professionals, such as doctors, nursing scientists, public health specialists, midwives, nurses and medical administrators, cooperate as equals with their peers. They share their professional knowledge, experiences and ideas specifically in order to improve healthcare on the ground in selected thematic areas.

If you would like to apply for a funding, go for it: The funding round is open until 17th December 2018. For more information check our website: or call  +49 (0)228 – 4460 3800

 Two days, 360 delegates and 89 speakers including Top ministers and leading practitioners from the world of global health debating and discussing the contradictions and challenges we face working in global health and the innovative ways health partnerships are working to tackle these: our 2018 Annual Conference provided insight into the enormous strength and power of global health initiatives.

Top ministers and leading practitioners from the world of global health gathered at the UK’s biggest Health Partnership event to debate the challenges and responses to global health issues and how the UK is contributing to the attainment of Universal Health Coverage (UHC).

Prolific speakers including, the Chief Medical Officer for Scotland, Dr Catherine Calderwood, Director of the Institute of Global Health Innovation at Imperial College, Professor the Lord Darzi and a video message from the Director General of the WHO, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, gave the global health and development community an opportunity to discuss how health partnerships can improve healthcare abroad as well as at home as the NHS celebrates its 70th anniversary.

Best practice, innovation and the ethics of volunteering within the health partnership community were also furthered as the conference saw the announcement of the Commonwealth Partnerships for Antimicrobial Stewardship Project announced, a welcome and much celebrated commitment from the UK government as part of the wider work of the Fleming Fund.

Over two days, the conference brought to bear the need for partnerships, research and programmes to combat the continually growing health inequalities, whilst highlighting the continued and growing contribution the UK is making to combat this.

For further information on the Conference and exclusive content please visit:


On June 14th, 2018, the ESTHER Alliance yearly meeting will take place in the Swiss city of Berne. The ESTHER Alliance delegates will work together on a stimulating program, reflecting jointly on how best to strengthen health systems through institutional health partnerships. The development of a new Theory of Change model for the Alliance will also be at the agenda.

The ESTHER Alliance meeting will be followed on June 15th, 2018, by the 2nd ESTHER Switzerland Forum, which will be an occasion to bring together international members of the Alliance and Swiss implementers partners to exchange and learn from each other. For more information or to participate to the Forum: (deadline for registration is Wednesday 13th).


Report from the World Health Summit 2018, which took place on October 15th in Berlin.
Presenting the German initiative ‘Hospital Partnerships – Partners Strengthen Health’ on the world stage

‘Institutional capacity development is the single most important challenge that hospitals in low- and middle-income countries face today,’ states Andrew Likaka, Director of Quality Management and E-Health at Malawi’s Ministry of Health. This challenge was the focus of a panel discussion on October 15 2018 at the World Health Summit in Berlin entitled ‘Hospital partnerships for improved service delivery – strengthening competencies of medical personnel’, which attracted over 150 international participants. Moderated by Oliver Haas, Head of GIZ Section Health, Education and Social Development, the panel of five included international experts and hospital partners in Germany’s most recent initiative for promoting clinical partnerships.

A dynamic initiative for peer-to-peer learning

A member of the ESTHER Alliance of Global Health Partnerships, the initiative ‘Hospital Partnerships – Partners Strengthen Health’ was launched in 2016 by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) together with the Else Kröner-Fresenius Foundation (EKFS) in order to support hospital partnerships between German medical and health institutions and their colleagues in low- and middle-income countries in Africa, Latin America, Asia and Eastern Europe. Implementation and knowledge transfer are coordinated by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH. GIZ is responsible for publishing calls for project proposals, for managing financial support and for delivering expert advice. To date the Initiative is accompanying 113 projects in 37 countries. Eighty-six of these projects are on the African continent. It is now launching its fifth round of funding.

To access the full article please click here.

For further information please visit:

The ESTHER Alliance met on June 13th and 14th 2018 in Bern for its bi-annual meeting. The first day, the Alliance Board Member representatives (including ESTHER France, Germany, Ireland, Norway and Switzerland) discussed progress towards year plan and the Strategic Plan 2015-2020.

The decisions made are related to its  governance structure and to the participation of the Alliance in international global health events during the second year’s half. The ESTHER Alliance’s priority for 2018 is the on-line launch of the self-evaluation EFFECt Tool. The goal is that at least 70% of all active ESTHER partnerships conduct a self-evaluation of their projects together with their partners. The Alliance will publish a report with the results of this evaluation in early 2019.

The second day included a working session with all representatives of the ESTHER Alliance and some external guests from WHO. The collaborative session focused on the contribution of institutional health partnerships to health system strengthening and on a Theory of Change-Modell for the Alliance. Guests from WHO presented their new publication on Twinning Patnerships for Improvement.


Find here the open WHO webinar from June 28th with the title “Improvement approaches spotlight: examining the Twinning Partnerships for Improvement model”.

The 90 minute webinar provides an opportunity to hear from front-line workers, country leaders and global partners, on the role of twinning partnerships as a catalyst for sustainable change. WHO provides an overview of the TPI Preparation package, TPI action planning and 6-step model to support the future application of the model.

Learning Objectives:
The webinar allows participants to:

  • Learn about how to use the WHO TPI Preparation Package and its complementary document on Action Planning;
  • Understand how twinning partnerships can influence national direction on quality;
  • Orient participants to the learning mechanisms put in place by the implementers of twinning partnerships;
  • Hear direct from the front-lines on the experience and realities of working in partnership and the impact it can have on behaviour change.

Intended audience:
Front-line workers, Administrators, Policy-makers, Academics

The Government of the Democratic Republic of Congo, with the support of WHO and partners, is preparing to vaccinate high risk populations against Ebola virus disease (EVD) in affected health zones. Health workers operating in affected areas were vaccinated on Monday 21st May and community outreach has started to prepare for the ring vaccination.

More than 7,500 doses of the rVSV-ZEBOV Ebola vaccine have been deployed to the Democratic Republic of the Congo to conduct vaccination in the northwestern Equator Province where 46 suspected, probable and confirmed Ebola cases and 26 deaths have been reported (as of May 18). Most of the cases are in Bikoro, a remote rural town, while four confirmed cases are in Mbandaka, the provincial capital with a population of over 1 million people.

The Ministry of Health with key partners are implementing a ring vaccination whereby the contacts of confirmed cases and the contacts of contacts are offered vaccination. Frontline healthcare workers and other persons with potential exposure to EVD – including but not limited to laboratory workers, surveillance teams and people responsible for safe and dignified burials – will also receive the vaccine. WHO is deploying both Congolese and Guinean experts to build the capacities of local health workers.

Find out more about ESTHER partnerships on Ebola here.

The Geneva Health Forum 2018 took place in April 10th – 12th. A special Experience Sharing Session was organized on the topic of “The international North-South hospital collaborations: a new model is being developed?”. The goal was to exchange on the more fundamental evolutions currently taking place in the field of the North-South hospital partnerships (new actors, new themes, new cooperation instruments, new financing models).

The ESTHER Alliance was represented in the discussion panel by Luciano Ruggia, Project Manager of ESTHER Switzerland.

For more information:

Following the 2017 Call for proposals, ESTHER Switzerland finalized in February the projects that are receiving an ESTHER Grant. After an in-depth analysis of the proposal, including an external review of each proposal, we selected six projects for a major Grant (ca. CHF 100’000), within an on-going institutional health partnership (IHP) and two projects for a Start-up fund (usually intended to initiate a new partnership). The new projects are presented on the ESTHER Switzerland web page

For each project, a factsheet is presenting the planned activities and is providing more detailed information, including contact details. The projects will now enter their implementation phase.

“You need to know your partners’ motivations”, said Andrew Jones, the Head of Partnerships at the UK’s Health and Education Trust (THET) in the workshop hosted by ESTHER Germany  on October 16th 2017. Jointly, the public and private sectors can work towards the sustainable development goals (SDGs).

Members and partners of the ESTHER Alliance for Global Health Partnerships and of the health industry gathered in Berlin in a workshop at the World Health Summit in order to get to know each other and explore how institutional health partnerships could be a tool to make innovation accessible in resource-poor settings and a means of working jointly for mutual benefit.


An Innovative Multi-stakeholder Approach to Improve Quality and Access to Care

As a keynote speaker, Farid Lamara from Expertise France and General Secretary of the ESTHER Alliance gave a short introduction to the history, approach and sustainability of ESTHER partnerships: these are long-term partnerships of peer clinicians and other health professionals. Mr. Lamara observes great opportunities in the engagement of the private sector in institutional health partnerships: Private industry can support larger partnership projects targeting the improvement of quality and access to care. In addition to financial means, companies can offer expertise in areas relevant to partnership projects. Moderated by Brigitte Jordan-Harder, a senior technical advisor for GIZ, the panelists engaged in a lively discussion summarized below.

Mr Warnken, Head of the Health Division at Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) underlined the German commitment to university and hospital partnerships as an innovative cooperation instrument to strengthen health systems and presented the Hospital Partnerships Initiative. The Initiative has been successful since its launch in 2016 – it has already funded 66 health partnerships in 30 countries. The partnerships represent an opportunity to mobilize new actors for development cooperation, particularly hospitals and health staff in Germany. The Initiative is also an example of cooperation with a private foundation, the Else Kröner-Fresenius Foundation, characterized by strong joint commitment for strengthening health services in developing countries.

Mr Madeija, representing the pharmaceutical company Bayer reported on his company’s engagement with the Access Accelerated Initiative. Supported by 22 big pharmaceutical companies, the goal of the initiative is to improve diagnosis and treatment of non-communicable diseases, like diabetes, cardio-vascular diseases and cancer in low- and middle-income countries. To do so companies contribute to building capacity and strengthening health systems in partnership with governments and considering local conditions and policies. For Bayer, ESTHER partnerships are perfect implementing partners to deliver capacity-building measures. Mr Madeija added that his company, as others, has an interest in contributing to stronger economies by improving the health of their populations, given that dynamic economies open new business markets.

Mr Cunnaku, Deputy Director at VAMED agreed on the potential of the private sector for supporting capacity-building in developing countries in areas such as information and communication technology (ICT). E-learning offers great opportunities to improve the skills of health professionals in remote areas. When involved in hospital partnerships, the private sector can offer a wide range of technical solutions to strengthen health systems in the developing world.

Andrew Jones from the British organisation THET added another perspective: THET has been using its Health Partnership approach towards workforce development since 1988. The NGO is part of the ESTHER Alliance. Since 2012, THET has collaborated with the company Johnson & Johnson in specific thematic areas such as surgery, anaesthesia and the development of community health workers. From his experience, a private company’s interest in using a partnership approach lies in the uniqueness of institutional health partnerships: They are an exchange platform between professionals from Southern and Northern countries with an evident impact on health systems. Mr Jones explained the process of developing a tripartite partnership and underlined how important it is to openly communicate about particular interests in order to build trust and ensure a win-win-win environment.

Mr Hemmer from the University of Rostock presented the perspective of a German hospital participating in a long-term ESTHER partnership with Cameroonian hospitals in Limbe and Bamenda and more recently in Kindia (Guinea); both partnerships are funded through GIZ’s regional programme University and Hospital Partnerships in Africa. For their African colleagues, these exchanges offer an opportunity to access state-of-the-art diagnostic and therapeutic practice. Among the German partners involved are notably Departments of Tropical Medicine. Doctors hardly see clinical cases of tropical diseases in Germany. It is therefore a great learning opportunity for both sides.

Overall, there was consensus that the Sustainable Development Agenda and Universal Health Coverage cannot be reached without the private sector playing its part. Discussions on concrete mechanisms and conditions for German partners to cooperate with the private sector to ensure transparency and fair competition will be jointly developed with the public sector.