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It Takes All of Us: Partnering for Impact

Sunday evening the study tour delegates learned how partnerships are key to strengthening health systems. Management Sciences for Health (MSH) and GE Foundation hosted a discussion and reception at the Bella Center in Copenhagen on the power of public-private partnerships on the eve of the Women Deliver 2016 conference.

MSH President and CEO Dr. Jonathan D. Quick moderated a lively discussion between Haiti’s former Minister of Health Dr. Florence Guillaume and Dr. David Barash, Chief Medical Officer of the GE Foundation on what makes successful partnerships work.

Dr. Jonathan D. Quick discusses successful partnerships with Dr. Florence Guillaume and Dr. David Barash. Photo credit: Matthew Martin/MSH.

Dr. Jonathan D. Quick discusses successful partnerships with Dr. Florence Guillaume and Dr. David Barash. Photo credit: Matthew Martin/MSH.

“Public-private partnerships are a creation of the 21st century, “ said Dr. Quick.  “Development work is too big for one sector, it takes all of us. “

In Liberia, partnerships are helping rebuild the health system after it was shattered by Ebola, including servicing water wells and improving maternal health services, as seen here:

According to Dr. Guillaume, in order to be effective in rebuilding after the Haiti earthquake in 2010, Haiti needed “many partners but one plan.” She continued saying “it was difficult to transfer ‘partners’ into ‘partnerships.’ Partnerships are like marriages, you need to share the same vision and work and plan together.” This worked well in Haiti with immunizations for children under 5, leading to 85% coverage for vaccines for measles. It was more difficult for maternal and child care given the need for partners throughout the continuum of care for women, including training of midwives.

Dr. Barash said the private sector has multiple ways to engage—either through philanthropy or early stage funding for pilot projects—and partners need shared values to help build communities and make economies more robust.  He described how in Kenya, GE Foundation invested extensively and trained midwives and nurses in anesthesiology. “ We needed to have an ecosystem around them—infrastructure, building the equipment and capacity building for the providers. We need trained biomedical technicians to fix the equipment.”

Dr. Guillaume highlighted the challenges of too many partners and donors regarding supply chain for medicines  and each partner having their own warehouse without coordination. She recommended that you must start a discussion with the local people at the beginning of the partnership. Dr. Barash said multiple sectors must discuss and define objectives from the start and identify how they will all operate together.

“One of the fundamentals of a good public private partnership is a common vision at the beginning of what success looks like and treating everyone as an ally,” said Dr. Quick.

This post was written by Barbara Ayotte, MSH’s Senior Director of Strategic Communications.