Global Health Partnership Programme

The launch of the Global Health Partnership Programme in 2023 marked the start of a new era in international collaboration. Still in the pilot phase, the initiative aims to improve intergovernmental cooperation on public health through knowledge exchange, capacity strengthening and technical assistance. The first projects are now underway. Eva Legtenberg and Nikki Kenters of the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport tell us more about the initiative and the goal of learning and evolving together towards a sustainable future.

Building new relationships

The Global Partnership Programme focuses on the three priorities of the Global Health Strategy: improving health systems, pandemic preparedness and addressing cross-border health threats, and climate change and health. These three pillars form the backbone of the partnerships that the programme aims to strengthen.

‘In 2023 we initiated collaborations in several regions, with countries including China, Colombia, Indonesia and Kenya. We used the first pilot phase to explore where the priorities lie,’ Eva Legtenberg explains.

‘During working visits and focus sessions we identified opportunities and challenges, which enabled us to explore potential collaborations. Based on these insights we can work together on solutions to national and global health challenges,’ Nikki Kenters adds. The programme focuses not only on sharing expertise but also on building relationships and exploring ways that governments in different countries can reinforce each other’s efforts.

Local health challenges

Collaboration partners were selected on the basis of a demand-driven approach and alignment with the priorities of the Global Health Strategy. This resulted in partnerships with China, Colombia, Indonesia and Kenya. Specific opportunities for collaboration were identified by region. ‘Together with Kenya’s Ministry of Health, for instance, we looked at a national adaptation plan for health that will focus on coping with the effects of climate change on healthcare – an issue that Kenya wants to actively address. The Netherlands, too, is looking to integrate healthcare into its national adaptation plan. We’re also working with Indonesia on specific projects. Nine policy officers from the Indonesian health ministry attended a course in Leiden on the medicines and vaccines production chain.’

The focus of the Netherlands’ collaboration with Colombia is on antibiotic resistance, a problem that needs to be addressed with urgency. ‘Colombia has been struggling for a long time with the impact of antibiotic resistance,’ Nikki Kenters says. ‘And this will also become a growing problem in the Netherlands in the years ahead. So it’s good to learn now about what might happen later.’

‘Both Kenya and China are actively working on sustainability issues and the impact of climate change on health systems. By joining forces and increasing mutual understanding we’re identifying more and more topics on which we can learn from each other,’ says Eva Legtenberg. ‘Kenya, for instance, can teach us how to deal with drought and extreme heat, while we can teach them about tools for calculating the ecological footprint of healthcare institutions. There has also been a fruitful knowledge exchange with China, which has led to the scaling up of innovative solutions to make hospitals more sustainable.’

Plans for 2024

After the successful completion of a pilot phase in 2023, the Global Partnership Programme is ready to expand and deepen in 2024. The programme will not only give a boost to health systems worldwide, but also demonstrate what can be achieved when countries pool their strengths and work together for a healthier and more sustainable future. As Nikki Kenters points out: ‘In these partnerships, mutual respect and equality are key. The goal is to work as equal partners and together find solutions to common challenges.’

‘That’s right,’ Eva Legtenberg affirms. ‘And shared priorities and a context-specific approach are an important part of this.’