Funds for UK bodies foster links with institutions in developing countries

BMJ 2009; 339 doi: (Published 02 October 2009) Cite this as: BMJ 2009;339:b4050
  1. Helen Mooney
  1. 1London

    A funding scheme backed by the Department of Health and the Department for International Development has been launched to help strengthen partnerships between UK health institutions and their counterparts in developing countries.

    The £3m (€3m; $5m) international health links funding scheme will run over the next three years. The scheme, set up by the British Council and the UK based charity the Tropical and Health Education Trust (THET), will aim to help build the capacity of developing countries’ health systems. The partnerships will be designed to include training and increasing staff capacity, continuing professional development, and curriculum development.

    The funding scheme is open to many not for profit health institutions in developing countries, including hospitals, health training institutions, and professional associations, and their UK counterparts, such as NHS trusts and professional associations. Universities can participate but not as lead partners.

    Mike Foster, international development minister, said, “Over 9.2 million children die in developing countries before their 5th birthday, and every single minute a woman dies in childbirth. Most of these deaths could be prevented by access to the basic health care we take for granted—drugs, medical facilities, and trained medical staff.

    “British doctors and nurses have an opportunity to make a difference by training staff in developing countries who can then serve their local communities without the need to leave home. Their skill, commitment, and drive will ultimately save thousands of lives.”

    The public health minister, Gillian Merron, said that the scheme would provide an opportunity for the NHS to play an even greater role in international development and help the government contribute to the millennium development goals.

    “Many individuals in the NHS have a deep commitment to help colleagues in developing countries and this fund will help them do so,” she said.

    The scheme will give small grants of up to £3000 for brokering or supporting the development of new links; medium grants of up to £15 000 over one or two years; and large grants of up to £60 000 a year for three years. Grants will be given to links that contribute to the achievement of priorities defined in the national health plans of specific developing countries.

    Pia MacRae, chief executive of THET, said, “This scheme will not only support the development of new links, but it will help to strengthen and expand the work of existing links.”

    Desmond Lauder, the British Council’s head of contracts and projects delivery, said that he hoped the scheme would “develop partnerships between the United Kingdom and developing countries to address issues such as child and maternal mortality, HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria.”


    Cite this as: BMJ 2009;339:b4050

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