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£1 million to support global healthcare implementation

Global HEalth

Ann Gloag OBE, co-founder of transport company Stagecoach and former Businesswoman of the Year, has today (Tuesday December 16, 2014) announced £1 million funding to support the launch of the University of St Andrews’ new programme in Global Health Implementation.

The St Andrews-Malawi Global Health Implementation Initiative is a partnership between the University of St Andrews and Malawi’s College of Medicine. The programme’s immediate aim is to make a difference on the ground in Malawi by researching ways to convert theoretical solutions into delivered practice; and supporting the development of healthcare infrastructure, professional education and service delivery with partners in Malawi.

The programme will also work to identify approaches with wider applicability both regionally and throughout the developing world by translating theory into working solutions – identifying ways around the barriers that currently prevent the implementation of known best practice.

The World Health Organisation estimates that around 800 women die every day due to complications of pregnancy and childbirth, almost all of them in low and middle-income countries. Most of these deaths are preventable with accessible high quality health services. Preterm birth complications cause more than one million deaths each year. More than three quarters of these babies’ lives could be saved with simple and cost-effective care.

Technical innovations in the prevention and treatment of disease have huge scope to save lives. However, the biggest challenges often lie in bringing such innovations to the point of actual implementation in a consistent manner, to high standards, and in a way that can be sustainable within the socioeconomic context.

Issues include geographical access to healthcare services; traditional beliefs and cultural practices which may constrain willingness to access medical care; and security problems. Once at a clinic or hospital access to services can be constrained by lack of medicines and supplies, insufficient staffing and costs of care. All of these factors may limit access to life saving interventions.

The funding announced today will allow the Global Health Implementation programme to tackle these challenges through research partnerships that focus on effective implementation.

Ann Gloag said:

“I am delighted to support the Global Health Implementation programme as I firmly believe the developing world needs people delivering practical solutions on the ground and this programme aims to do that.

“Enabling the poorest countries in Africa to raise themselves out of poverty must be a priority for the future and helping with healthcare infrastructure is a critical step in this process.

“Having worked in Malawi since the 1980s, I am fully aware of the challenges of turning theories into practical solutions on the ground but it can be done and that is why I am confident this programme will have a positive impact in Malawi and beyond.”

The funding will be used to support:

  • Research into ways of translating theory into delivery; allowing known best-practice to make a difference on the ground to improve the health of the Malawian population and beyond. The first phase of this research will focus on outcomes on maternal and child health
  • An innovative Masters in Global Health Implementation – focused on assessing the effectiveness of implementation, rather than simply examining issues around global health. The programme will launch in September 2015 with 10 students for this one-year course
  • A joint PhD programme, which will be delivered in collaboration with Malawi’s College of Medicine, developing diverse expertise and research to help inform global decision-makers.

The first four PhD students will begin their studies in January 2015, leading ground-breaking research into:

  • Alcohol and substance misuse in Malawi
  • Transparency of health care financing
  • A new model for research into African Sleeping Sickness
  • And recognition of Acute Sepsis.

Minister for Europe and International Development, Humza Yousaf MSP said:

“The St Andrews-Malawi Global Health Initiative chimes with the Scottish Government’s own firm commitment to supporting people in our ‘sister nation’ Malawi to access potentially life-changing projects to better their lives and the lives of their families.

“The programme complements the work of government-funded projects such as the University of St Andrews’ Enhancing Healthcare Training project, which is helping Malawi’s College of Medicine to build the capacity it needs to train more doctors and healthcare professionals.

“The Scottish Government currently funds 16 healthcare projects worth more than £5 million in Malawi. Scottish expertise in this area is making a huge difference and is saving lives.

“This initiative will build on our important work, and it will help us to further strengthen the special and enduring relationship Scotland and Malawi have enjoyed for many decades – a relationship that is vitally important to the people of Scotland.”

The Global Health Implementation Programme is led by Professor David Crossman, Dean of Medicine at the University of St Andrews, and Professor William Stones, the Ann Gloag Chair in Global health Implementation who is a practising obstetrician alongside his research activities and is based in Malawi.

Professor William Stones said:

“Ann Gloag’s philanthropy is bringing about a rewarding, collaborative approach that allows the links to be made between healthcare professional education, research and the challenges of actual health service delivery in low resource settings. Often these elements have been approached in isolation so may not have achieved the anticipated health gains. Our programme will nurture health care professionals focused on increasing access and quality of health care, enabling them to be more effective in health service delivery through the use of research evidence and taking an active role in shaping service organisation and functionality.”

The announcement comes as the University of St Andrews officially launches the Global Health Implementation Programme with a one-day summit including a morning session on Education, Capacity Strengthening and Community Engagement; a Malaria Symposium; and a public lecture delivered by Professor Will Stones on “Delivering Women’s Health in the Developing World”.

ENDS

NOTES TO NEWS EDITORS

The Global Health Implementation (GHI) initiative was launched in 2013 and is a collaborative initiative between the College of Medicine in Malawi, University of Malawi (UNIMA) and the School of Medicine at the University of St Andrews, Scotland. This builds on a long term partnership between the institutions. For background go to: http://synergy.st-andrews.ac.uk/globalhealth/

The University receives funding for its work in Malawi from the Scottish Government International Development fund for its Scotland-Malawi Development Partnership.

The full programme for the Global Health Implementation summit is available at: http://www.st-andrews.ac.uk/events

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