Our Work in Health
Improving access to quality essential social services such as health and services related to HIV/AIDS is key to the realisation of human rights, the reduction of poverty, hunger and inequality and the promotion of inclusive economic growth. We will continue to invest in improving access by vulnerable people to essential social services, and concentrate on the strengthening of systems to deliver quality basic health services, reaching those most in need. Our work will be informed by a changing global context and the introduction of the Sustainable Development Goals.
Tibre Desu, a “trekking doctor” walks to Dembela Health Post in Ethiopia’s Tigray region, having replenished her supply of medications. She is one of 38,000 frontline female health workers spread across the country who work to bring healthcare to people living in rural areas. Ireland supports the Health SDG Performance Fund in Ethiopia to strengthen health systems and ensure quality basic healthcare for all.
Photographer: Petterik Wiggers Copyright notice: The Global Fund / Petterik Wiggers Unique identifier: GF1110364
For these reasons we work with ministries of health and other key ministries in our partner countries, with civil society organisations, and with the private sector, to ensure a comprehensive response that will achieve better health for all. Because our partner countries often face similar challenges, we support regional efforts that promote cross-border learning for better health services.
We also work at the global level to advocate for best practice, and we support research and provide funding to international and domestic organisations which are working to close critical gaps in healthcare in developing countries. Our programmes and support for partners are guided by One World, One Future and the Sustainable Development Goals, and we focus our efforts through the following mechanisms:
1. Strengthening national health systems
A well-functioning national health system is critical if we are to achieve better health outcomes for everyone. Our priority is strengthening health systems so that everyone - including poor men, women and children - has access to safe, effective treatment, delivered by a sufficient number of qualified staff, using the right medicines. We work closely with partner governments, for example, in Mozambique,Tanzania, Ethiopia, Sierra Leone and Liberia, to support and strengthen the delivery of quality health services.
2. Global Health Initiatives
Irish Aid works with partners on the global scale to fight diseases of poverty, promote a strong well-trained health workforce, and ensure that vulnerable children receive life-saving vaccinations.
Our partnerships with Global Health Initiatives work on relevant areas including health systems strengthening, human resources for health, human rights, and access to services for marginalised populations.
Our partnership with the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria aims to end the epidemics of these three diseases of poverty by 2030. Ireland was a founding member of the Global Fund in 2002, and since then we have worked with the Global Fund to ensure people in the poorest countries in the world have access to treatment and prevention for HIV, TB and Malaria.
Another example of the work being done globally is the continued fight against polio. Only three countries – Nigeria, Pakistan and Afghanistan – and Ireland has supported the continued drive towards final eradication of polio as a threat.
We also support the vaccination of children around the world – a cost effective way to reduce childhood illness and mortality, in some of the poorest communities around the world. It is not too long since these preventable diseases also affected Irish children, and with our support we hope that soon they will be a thing of the past for children around the world also.
3. Domestic Health Partnerships
We also work with partners domestically in order to advance our priorities in Global Health through advocacy, awareness raising, facilitating north-south capacity building and technology transfer, and providing valuable technical input into global level policy dialogue. Our domestic partners work with partners in the Global South to develop partnerships, and strengthen institutional capacity to deliver quality basic healthcare, including through supporting countries to train and retain health care workers. We employ a whole of government approach to the achievement of Ireland’s policy objectives for international development, and work closely with other Government Departments and agencies in our work.
4. Supporting health research
We invest in research targeted at the main diseases of poverty; HIV and AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. One of the main focuses of this research is the attempts to create safe, effective, affordable vaccines for these diseases. Without vaccine development, it will be very difficult for us to end the epidemics of HIV, TB and Malaria worldwide. We support approaches designed to ensure that health research and knowledge gets to where it is needed most, and our partners focus on building capacity in developing countries to ensure that the countries that need it most benefit from this research. Successful research can also make a very significant contribution to reducing economic and financial costs, thereby making health financing more efficient in the longer term.
5. Multilateral and United Nations Agencies
Our partnerships with UN Agencies work in many countries and on many different issues, including HIV and AIDS, nutrition, reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health, and gender based violence. Through our support for these agencies, Ireland maintains a strong voice in international development, and works towards achieving our priorities in Global Health. Partnerships with multilateral agencies allow us to leverage experience from across the world, and build on work already done.