The Amref Health Africa/GSK partnership is a remarkable, long-standing strategic alliance. Working together for more than 28 years, in more than 15 countries, our programmes have been working towards achieving both organisations’ visions – that of lasting health change in Africa and improving the quality of human life.
Nearly 30 years ago, Amref Health Africa and GSK joined forces to distribute bed nets to communities at risk of malaria. Over the years since, our partnership has collaborated on projects focusing on malaria and HIV prevention, access to proper sanitation and non-communicable disease prevention. Together we introduced the PHASE programme in Kenya to teach children the importance of handwashing and good hygiene practice. This programme has since been rolled out across 16 countries, reaching more than 1.5 million children.
In our latest collaboration with GSK, we have teamed up to train frontline health workers through the GSK 20% Reinvestment Initiative (RI) programme. Launched in 2009, the initiative is now being implemented by Amref Health Africa across 13 different countries in Eastern and Southern Africa. This programme sees GSK reinvest 20% of profits generated in its least developed countries back into strengthening those countries’ healthcare systems. It is a sustainable model to help improve healthcare infrastructure long-term and improve access to healthcare. Through the RI programme, the Amref Health Africa/GSK approach is threefold:
build local capability to enable improved delivery of healthcare services, primarily by ensuring access to trained health workers at the community level
educate communities to recognise diseases
refer to health services and work with governments at a policy level to work towards greater investment, and improvement, in healthcare.
The World Health Organisation believes that an addition 7.2 million health workers are needed. A chronic shortage of trained frontline health workers in the world’s least developed countries is recognised as one of the most fundamental constraints on improving access to healthcare. This presents an incredibly complex health challenge affecting the world’s poorest communities, including many of the countries in which our partnership works. Through the RI initiative, we are working together to help plug this gap to ensure communities across sub-Saharan Africa have access to trained community health workers, who are essential to providing frontline care to the most hard-to-reach communities. Health workers on the ground, living and working in the community, can provide life-saving healthcare advice, medicines and vaccines. In Tanzania for example, only 50% of pregnant women are assisted during childbirth by a doctor or other trained health worker. The risk of death in pregnancy or childbirth is 1 in 23.
To date, the RI programme has reached more than 4 million people in East and Southern Africa. Through the partnership, we have trained more than 8,300 health workers across 14 African countries, with another three countries to be added this year.