Assessing partnership linkages for health workforce and research capacity building in Kenya; Lessons learned

  • Gathatwa F
  • Davies L
  • Kiarie J
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Program/Project Purpose: Strategic partnerships across key stakeholders are critical to effectively roll out large scale health system interventions. Leveraging existing networks to develop stronger connections between partners can lead to more effective programs. The Medical Education Partnership Initiative (MEPI) focuses on supporting North-South collaborations to improve the quality and quantity of healthcare worker training, increase retention of health care worker, and support locally relevant research in Sub-Saharan Africa since 2010. The University of Nairobi (UoN) Partnerships for Innovative Medical Education Kenya (PRIME-K) program started with two international partners, the University of Maryland-Baltimore and the University of Washington. These two international partners supported program implementation by building institutional capacity through benchmarks for decentralized training, introducing e-learning platforms, improving research administration, support and mentorship, enhancing monitoring and evaluation, increasing innovative training and strengthening libraries. PRIME-K also had strong in-country partnerships with the Ministries of Health and Higher Education that were critical for the initial implementation of decentralized training and research in health facilities across Kenya. Structure/Method/Design: In years four and five of PRIME-K, the Monitoring and Evaluation team developed a network map from these initial partnerships and, using snowball sampling method, conducted key informant interviews and qualitative analysis of strategic partnership documents. This approach allowed the M&E team to evaluate all of the significant linkages that have been formed since the beginning of PRIME-K and assess their impact. Outcomes & Evaluation: Over 30 linkages have been developed between partnering stakeholders. With the infusion of resources, PRIME-K created 16 new direct partnerships to UoN. UoN's involvement in MEPI led to over 20 cross collaborations with 11 other universities in Sub-Saharan Africa, 3 Kenyan universities, 5 government entities in health and education, 6 independent organizations and several new grants and awards. Each of these linkages have contributed to improving and increasing training, and locally relevant research. Drawing on PRIME-K's experience, there are four key lessons from these MEPI-enabled partnerships: establishing strong foundations can lead to new collaborations; infusing existing partnerships with resources enables innovative and sustainable solutions to long term problems; connecting new partners with different strengths can expand their scope of impact; and providing opportunities to search for local solutions within Kenya and Sub- Sahran Africa strengthens South-South collaborations. Going Forward: Partnerships have been integral to meeting the goals of MEPI in Kenya by enhancing quality of trainings and expanding medical education and research opportunities. The lessons learned from PRIME-K's partnerships are important to future large scale collaborative interventions addressing health system needs in low resource settings.




Gathatwa, F. N. J., Davies, L., & Kiarie, J. N. (2015). Assessing partnership linkages for health workforce and research capacity building in Kenya; Lessons learned. Annals of Global Health, 81(1), 27.

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