The "1st International Conference of Hospital Partnerships - Resilience & Solidarity in times of crisis" of the Hospital Partnerships funding program, implemented by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, was a great success according to the participants. The two-day conference took place from 14 to 15 October 2022 in Berlin. It was preceded the evening before by a welcome boat trip on the Berlin river Spree and a visit to a restaurant, where the Hospital Partners could get to know each other informally.
A total of 354 Hospital partners from 40 countries travelled to Berlin to network intensively with each other. The moderator duo Nester Moyo (Netherlands / Simbabwe) and Sebastian Kunert (Germany) led the stage program at KOSMOS, a former GDR cinema steeped in history.
Federal Ministry and WHO on stage
The start was marked by several speeches that painted a comprehensive picture of Global Health in general and partner projects in particular. Dr Bärbel Kofler, State Secretary at the Federal Ministry for Economic Development and Cooperation (BMZ), kicked off the event by expressing her gratitude to the Hospital Partner’s important contribution. The BMZ is the public client of the Hospital Partnerships funding program; it had launched the program in 2016. Dr Axel Klaphake, Head of the Department of Economic, Social and Digital Affairs at GIZ, expressed his delight at how successful the program is today with 400 projects. The GIZ implements the program since its start and accompanies the partners concerning project and contract management issues and capacity development. Katthyana Genevieve Aparicio Reyes from the World Health Organization (WHO) shed light on the model of partner projects and presented the WHO approach to this.
Dr. Jochen Bitzer from the Else Kröner Fresenius Foundation (EKFS) informed about the funding opportunities of the humanitarian foundation for medical projects. The award ceremony of the EKFS the same evening, gave great insights on more funding opportunities for interested participants as well as networking appointments for them.
Focus on working groups
But the main focus was all overall on the community of the Hospital Partners and their hot topics themselves. The participants had registered in advance for seven different working groups, each of which covered its field of activity such as
1. Advancing Cancer Care (ACC
2. Advancing Surgery (AS)
3. Anesthesia and Emergency Medicine (AEM)
4. Global Mental Health (GMH)
5. Maternal & Newborn Health (MNH)
6. Pandemic prevention, Emerging and Re-emerging Infections; Zoonotic, Neglected and Tropical Diseases (PETD)
7. Working in Fragile Environments (WFE)
In the "Special session Ukraine", around 30 mainly Ukrainian-German professionals gathered to talk about joint and future projects and areas of expertise. They would like to provide targeted support to the crisis-ridden country in terms of medical cooperation.
Poster gallery of high interest
The moderators of the working groups started with getting-to-know-you methods. Afterwards, they went into concrete questions that were oriented towards the categories "challenges", "solutions", "wishes" and "visions". The results of each group were recorded and shared, so that new impulses and learning effects can also have an impact in the future. Hospital Partners from 60 projects had also sent posters to the funding program team in advance. In this way, they were able to present themselves visually and enter into conversation with other interested parties. From mental health in Vietnam to emergency care in the Andes of Ecuador to intestinal surgery in Ghana, the poster gallery in the so-called KOSMOS circulation showed the wide range and strong global distribution of the Hospital Partnerships.
Courage of donors wanted
The topic of pandemic prevention met with great interest, so this working group split into small groups. The working group on "Fragile Contexts", whose participants work in Haiti, Afghanistan and Myanmar, among other places, was also dynamic. Their partners emphasised the importance of understanding the local context and the need for the courage of donors. The motto is to persevere and support projects in insecure contexts.
Together with GLOHRA
The Hospital Partnerships funding program realised the conference at KOSMOS Berlin at the same time as the German Alliance for Global Health Research (GLOHRA). The Charité Foundation works on scientific approaches in the field of global health and organises the "GLOHRA Day", a symposium for its members once a year in October. In this way, Hospital Partners were able to participate in the "Joint Session" of both organisations on the second day of the conference. As some of them are also active in the GLOHRA network, there happened valuable synergies here.
Attendance at World Health summit
"It is great that we could see our partners from the South at the conference and meet so many other new faces," a Hospital Partner from Germany later reported enthusiastically. Many participants from the Global South took the opportunity to visit their German project partners and attend further conferences. The invitation through the program to participate in the World Health Summit (WHS) from 16 to 18 October - held annually in Berlin with key decision-makers in the field of global health - was also well used.
"We come mostly from the field and work very much at the grassroots level of health care in low-and middle-income countries. Here we experience the decision-maker level. We were even able to listen to Germany's Chancellor Olaf Scholz at the opening - that's really great," commented a surgeon from Ghana.
An intensive workshop
The program did not end there: three projects with participants from Myanmar, Kenya and Iraq took also part in the GIZ workshop "Impact-oriented project management", which is offered regularly by the funding program and addresses both partner sides. "We learned a lot of new things and continued to plan our project together. I am curious to see what we will now implement in concrete terms," said one Hospital partner.
Kudos to the organizers
The conclusion of the "1st International Conference of Hospital Partnerships" was that personal encounters are of outstanding importance for the community. Or as one hospital partner put it so nicely on Twitter: "I had expected a lively community at this conference. But the great diversity, dedication and enthusiasm of all participants made so much more happen. We are many! Kudos to the organizers on this successful event."
PDF: Africa Poster
PDF: Asia Poster
PDF: South America and Caribic poster
PDF: Ukraine Poster