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Feature Global Health

Linking up for better health care

BMJ 2010; 340 doi: (Published 19 February 2010) Cite this as: BMJ 2010;340:c768
  1. Sophie Cook, editorial registrar
  1. 1BMJ, London WC1H 9JR
  1. scook{at}

    The UK centre to support health links with developing countries becomes fully operational in March. Sophie Cook looks at their contribution to global health

    In 2007, Nigel Crisp, former chief executive of the NHS, called for more links between the United Kingdom and overseas institutions to help improve the health of people in the poorest countries. “Everywhere I went people told me they were keen on greater partnership and links with the UK, sometimes built on our shared history and tradition. They want—and need—more funding for health, but they also want to draw on UK experience and expertise in health and to work together in a spirit of mutual respect,” he said in his report on global health partnerships.1

    Health links—long term mutually beneficial relationships between an NHS institution and an overseas partner—aim to strengthen health systems and improve health care by responding to the needs of the overseas partner. Lord Crisp hoped that these partnerships might also help countries to attain the United Nation’s millennium development goals.2

    The government responded to his 16 recommendations by setting up the international health links funding scheme in September 2009 (box)3 and funding the International Health Links Centre, a one stop resource for information and advice run by the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine that will be fully operational in early March. Lord Crisp’s report also led to the Department of Health commissioning a new NHS framework for international development. This framework, which is being produced by healthcare consultancy Tribal Newchurch in conjunction with the London based charity Tropical Health and Education Trust (THET) and Voluntary Service Overseas, is currently at the consultation stage and will encourage individuals, NHS organisations, health educators, and others to participate in overseas work.

    International health links funding scheme

    This scheme is jointly managed by the Tropical Health and Education …

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