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Launch of ESTHER Ireland

Health, News/feature, Ireland, Africa, 2013
Dr Jane Fualal (centre) carries out surgery with her interns at Mulago Hospital, Kampala. She is the Uganda National Representative for the College of Surgeons in East, Central and Southern Africa. Photographer: Daudi Ssebaggala SDS Productions

Dr Jane Fualal (centre) carries out surgery with her interns at Mulago Hospital, Kampala. Photographer: Daudi Ssebaggala SDS Productions

Have you heard of the ESTHER Alliance? Set up in 2001, the ESTHER Alliance does great work by teaming up European hospitals and institutions with partners in over 40 developing countries. Together they work to tackle HIV/AIDS and other major diseases to improve the health of women, children and newborns.

Today marks the launch of ESTHER Ireland, the Irish Chapter of the ESTHER Alliance. One of the first partnerships under the Alliance is between Cork University Maternity Hospital and Omdurman Maternity Hospital in Sudan. Both institutions have been working together since 2002 and have developed an international healthcare model in Mother and Child care. The partnership involved a regular flow of knowledge, expertise, research and infrastructural support which has resulted in amazing 86% decrease in maternal mortality rates in the Sudanese hospital. On top of this there has also been a 50% drop in stillbirths and in newborn deaths.

Outside Lacor Hospital in Northern Uganda, Sarah waits for her ill husband to return with his diagnosis. He has been losing weight for months she says. Photographer: Niamh Griffin
A second major collaboration is between the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland and the College of Surgeons of East, Central and Southern Africa. Launched in 2012 this partnership is dedicated to surgical training through fellowships in 9 African countries. Recipients of the fellowships are offered training in 7 different specialities and, upon passing an examination, emerge with a surgical qualification that meets international standards and is regionally recognised.

Membership of ESTHER Ireland is an important part of Ireland’s commitment in our new policy, One World, One Future, to take a ‘whole of government’ approach to development. Alongside our funding to ESTHER Ireland, these partnerships allow us to harness the expertise and skills of Irish health experts and institutions to improve access to essential quality health services.