Ireland joined the European ESTHER Alliance in February 2012 as an initiative under the HSE-Irish Aid collaboration. The ESTHER Alliance is a European initiative that involves twinning with hospitals in developing countries. Under Ireland’s ESTHER Programme the HSE facilitates Irish hospitals and other health institutions to engage in partnerships with counterpart institutions in less developed countries. This provides a mechanism for health staff to contribute to health needs in other countries while continuing to be based in Ireland. Click here for more information on the ESTHER alliance
View the ESTHER programme model by clicking the link on the right side of this page
Click here for more information on ESTHER Ireland.
Operational strategy and functioning
ESTHER Ireland is managed under the HSE-Irish Aid collaboration. Dr David Weakliam directs the programme within the HSE and also represents Ireland on the newly formed Board of the European ESTHER Alliance Board. He was elected as the Board’s first chair for two years from January 2015.
ESTHER Ireland is governed by a Steering Group with members from the HSE, hospitals, Irish Aid, UCD and the Irish Forum for Global Health. The Irish Forum for Global Health (IFGH) is undertaking the secretariat functions and managing ESTHER funding donated by Irish Aid.
Current ESTHER Ireland Partnerships
Royal College of Surgeons Ireland – College of Surgeons of East, Central and Southern Africa Collaboration Programme
The first partnership in ESTHER Ireland is the Collaboration Programme between the Royal College of Surgeons Ireland (RSCI) and the College of Surgeons of East, Central and Southern Africa (COSECSA) which joined in December 2012. The RCSI-COSECSA collaboration is a well established partnership dedicated to surgical training. It develops common regional surgical training programmes in designated training institutions with a common examination and the award of surgical qualification that meets international standards and is regionally recognised. Fellowships are offered in seven specialties: General Surgery, Orthopaedics, Paediatrics, Urology, Neurosurgery, Plastic Surgery and ENT.
There are 10 Member Countries: Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Burundi.
The RCSI-COSECSA Collaboration Programme was designed to advance COSECSA’s mandate and improve its current operating capacity. The Programme is supported by Irish Aid, with RCSI providing staff time and resources including curricula, education tools, skills training, examinations, accreditation and quality assurance processes. The Programme’s goal is to increase the provision of quality, essential surgical and emergency care in the COSECSA mandate region, particularly at district level.
Cork University Maternity Hospital – Omdurman Maternity Hospital Partnership
The Cork University Maternity Hospital (CUMH) – Omdurman Maternity Hospital (OMH) partnership began as an idea in 2002 when two paediatricians and a neonatal nurse, all from Cork, taught the Neonatal Resuscitation Programme in Khartoum to 90 providers and 28 instructors, including midwives and doctors. It was then suggested that CUMH should make some contributions to the developing world, focusing particularly on hospitals and services with which CUMH could partner.
The cooperation between these two maternity hospitals has continued for 10 years, and has been associated with an 86 per cent reduction in maternal mortality and a 50 percent drop in stillbirths and early neonatal deaths. In recognition of the superb work that has already been accomplished the Cork-Omdurman partnership received an award for Excellence in Healthcare Management at the 2009 Irish Healthcare Awards. A new initiative is ‘Helping Babies Breathe’ – an intervention tool for hospitals and community facilities in Sudan to help reduce stillbirth rates and neonatal mortality in the community. The partnership joined ESTHER Ireland in February 2013.
Mayo General Hospital – Londiani District Hospital, Kenya
The partnership between Mayo General Hospital (MGH) Ireland and Londiani District Hospital (LDH) in Kenya began in 2009 when the first Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the two institutions. This partnership was initiated by an NGO called Friends of Londiani which acted as the facilitator between the two institutions. Most recently, in September 2014, the Mayo-Londiani partnership applied to join ESTHER and further formalise their partnership. Since 2009 over 20 staff members have visited Londiani. The next step is to facilitate visits from staff members in Londiani to MGH.
Recent ESTHER Ireland Activities
Membership of the European ESTHER Alliance has facilitated the development of new links by HSE institutions with less developed countries. The ESTHER Charter for Quality of Partnership serves as a key instrument to promote international best practice. During 2014 staff from a range of institutions were involved, mainly hospitals and hospital groups, but also others – e.g. training institutions, a public health department, HSELand, a library. Additionally, overseas institutions in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Mozambique have approached the HSE expressing interest in linking with counterpart institutions in Ireland. Approximately 500 HSE staff are on the ESTHER database and receive regular mailings.
Highlights for 2014 -2015 include:
- In September, Mayo General Hospital partnership with Londiani Hospital, Kenya and Friends of Londiani was renewed and accepted as the latest ESTHER partnership.
- Ongoing technical advice was provided to Irish hospitals developing African links – e.g. Crumlin Children’s Hospital and Tanzania; National Maternity Hospital and Malawi
- A global network for community and public health nursing was successfully established by the Institute of Community Health Nursing thanks to an ESTHER start up grant and technical advice from the global health programme.
- The HSE signed a Statement of Intent with Mozambique in June 2014 for collaboration at national level on quality and patient safety. A delegation from Mozambique subsequently visited Ireland in September.
- Five ESTHER start up grants were awarded – most recently for a link between the Department of Public Health in Limerick and Lal Gadh Leprosy Hospital and Community Services in Nepal; and a link between the TCD Centre for Global Health and the Hamlin Fistula Hospital in Ethiopia
- Students at NUI Galway undertook a survey supervised by Dr Diarmuid O’Donovan to examine the level of involvement of HSE staff in developing countries, along with an investigation of processes from engagement, including the use of guidelines or memoranda of understanding used for the partnership.
- In July Irish Aid granted €100k for the ESTHER programme – operational funding (€50k) and start up grants (€50k).
- Links were established with the WHO African Partnerships for Patient Safety Programme.
- The programme worked with European ESTHER partners to develop a new strategic framework 2015-2020.
- A regional workshop for southern partners was held in Morocco in October and three ESTHER Ireland southern partners were represented.
ESTHER Ireland Startup Grants
Small grants of up to €6000 are available to Irish health institutions wishing to conduct projects that build partnerships with institutions in the Global South, in order to help strengthen the knowledge and skills of health professionals. These small grants are specifically intended to support the early development of such partnerships, including conceptualisation and initial meetings or exchange visits to help develop shared vision.
Interested parties should submit a letter of intent, of no more than 2 pages in length, which should detail:
- Basic information about your institution
- Brief description of the project purpose, and background to your project so far
- Description of the Southern partner institution
- Outline of the vision of the project
- Description of how your institution aligns with the ESTHER Programme Charter for Quality of Partnerships
- What the grant will primarily be used for
- Your contact information
Letters of intent should be submitted via email to the ESTHER Ireland Secretariat by clicking here. If you wish to inquire as to the suitability of your project, you can also contact us prior to submitting a Letter of Intent. This is a rolling call, and we invite submissions from across the whole spectrum of health professionals.