Cambridge Global Health Partnerships works with hospitals, governments and health organisations in countries across Africa, Asia and Latin America to provide specialist expertise, support shared learning and encourage sustainable change.

This is a two-way process involving NHS staff, especially from Cambridge University Hospitals and other NHS care providers in the region visiting and working with partners abroad, and staff from our partner organisations visiting the United Kingdom to share their experience and expertise.

Our work contributes directly to the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 3 – Ensuring healthy lives and promoting wellbeing for all at all ages.

We are committed to delivering an ever-increasing positive impact on the communities we serve.

Engaging in global health has a huge impact both at home and away; 96% of our volunteers report that their volunteering has developed their communication skills, 91% are better able to manage limited resources, and 86% are refreshed and feel more motivated at work on their return. (Volunteer feedback 2012-2019).

“International volunteering develops almost every aspect of your personal and professional life, forces you to challenge your working and cultural practice, develops new friendships, exposes you to new ideas, and allows you to see a side of another country that would be impossible to appreciate as a tourist. Most importantly, there’s a moral imperative; 5 billion people do not have access to safe, timely, affordable surgical and anaesthetic care while we in the UK enjoy enormously advanced healthcare free at the point of delivery.”

Tom Bashford
Clinical Research Fellow, Specialist Registrar CUH, CGHP Committee member, and volunteer in Myanmar

About Us

Cambridge Global Health Partnerships (CGHP) was established in 2007 in response to the increasing understanding within the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) and Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (CUH), that engaging with global health has benefits for patients and healthcare workers, both overseas and in the UK.

Since then we have established global health partnerships across Africa, Latin America and Southeast Asia, and our volunteer healthcare professionals have improved the healthcare delivered to millions of patients.

We have also reached out to new partners across Cambridge and Cambridgeshire.

Our small team in Cambridge is dedicated to sharing this unique expertise worldwide safely, effectively and ethically.

By the end of 2018 we had helped over 600 volunteers from the UK health services to give more than 10,000 days of support to hospitals and healthcare services in over 50 countries and to train over 3,000 healthcare workers.

CGHP is a charitable programme based on the Cambridge Biomedical Campus in the UK. The Campus is on track to become one of the leading biomedical centres in the world by 2020, with world-class research, patient care and education all combined on a single site at the heart of Europe’s leading biotechnology cluster.

CGHP operates under the umbrella of Addenbrooke’s Charitable Trust (ACT) – CUH’s dedicated charity.

Our Work

We set up and manage health partnerships whereby UK-based healthcare professionals provide volunteer support individually, or more usually in teams, to healthcare institutions in other countries. We also provide support, guidance and funding to individuals and teams involved in global health volunteering beyond our partnerships.

Our work divides into six parts, we:

  • set up and manage relationships with in-country partners
  • select and recruit high-quality volunteers
  • train and prepare them to perform efficiently in their new environments and how to achieve the most from their visit
  • arrange the vital logistics of travel as well as the necessary planning to ensure good governance and implementation of our volunteer placements
  • welcome and host our overseas partners in Cambridge to exchange ideas and develop good practice
  • develop broader relationships and partnerships in the UK and across the world such as the successful North-South-South partnership between Cambridge, India and Botswana.

Our work is tailored to the needs of our partners, which may be hospitals, ministries of health, academic and research institutions, and other charitable organisations, and to the very different environments in which they operate and challenges that they face.

We structure our partnerships around the Principles of Partnership.

THET has been a close partner to Cambridge Global Health Partnerships since its inception, and with good reason. We are long-standing admirers of the catalytic role it plays in projecting the expertise of Cambridge individuals and institutions globally, and especially for the benefit of countries with few resources. We share a common belief that this work brings great benefit to those involved, and to the UK more generally. We have also worked together to shape the ethical framework in which such work takes place, notably through the development of the Principles of Partnership. Long may our partnership thrive.

Ben Simms
Chief Executive Officer, THET

Our Impact

Research into the UK’s Health Partnership Scheme found that the evidence ‘overwhelmingly demonstrated the effectiveness of the partnership and volunteering approach in supporting health worker capacity strengthening’, noting that ‘long-term volunteering and strategic short-term volunteering are most effective’.

Our core programmes focus on delivering long-term partnerships with institutions – our programmes in Botswana date back to 2007, in El Salvador to 2008, in Myanmar in 2013, and in Uganda in 2014. This provides time to build crucial relationships, to assess how we can best help, and to work together and embed good practice. We believe the enduring nature of the partnerships also demonstrates the mutual value created and the strong communication and commitment between us.

Putting numbers on the value that the partnerships can deliver can be very challenging – not least due to the availability and interpretation of data and the inevitable complexities of associating cause and effect. Equally, ethical and practical issues can arise when quantifying life or disability.

We have attempted to overcome some of these challenges in our Social Return on Investment analysis of the El Salvador programme. The result is not definitive but does point to three key areas in which our programmes have positive impacts.

Strengthening Partners’ Health Systems

By introducing new techniques and procedures that help to make more of the limited resources available, our partners can get more value out of their often overstretched resources. This may be from training on specific skills and techniques, early detection and diagnosis, setting out and codifying procedures, introducing new systems, encouraging inter-disciplinary team working, or a mix of these. Such interventions can then have a real and sustained impact on clinical and other outcomes.

Developing Volunteers’ Skills

Our volunteers can come from all parts of the healthcare profession and from the recently qualified to some of the most experienced specialist consultants. All, however, have something to learn from the experience of working in often far more challenging and immediate situations, and with sometimes much more limited resources. Improvements in confidence, team working, leadership and flexibility are frequently reported by our returning volunteers – who often visit again and again to build on their skills.

Strengthening the NHS

The skills and knowledge gained also benefit NHS employers as volunteers return with enhanced experience and a fuller appreciation of the facilities and support available in their home institutions. Based on our surveys, 97% of our volunteers report that their volunteering has developed their communication skills, 88% are better able to manage limited resources, and 84% are refreshed and feel more motivated at work on their return.

Our partnerships thus develop a Win:Win:Win – a win for our overseas partners; a win for the individual NHS staff members involved who return to the NHS with a refreshed view of healthcare and their role in it; and so a win for their employer.

“I was so honoured and felt so valued by my team when my consultant asked me to volunteer to El Salvador. Volunteering overseas was something I had never experienced before and I saw a completely different way of life. It was a personal adventure for me as well as a professional one. I am trying to initiate things in CUH that I learnt out there. The learning has been both ways, and that’s the great thing about health partnerships!”

Nick Fletcher
Simulation Centre Technical Manager, CUH, volunteer in El Salvador

Get Involved

We rely on the support and goodwill of a variety of individuals and institutions to run and develop our programmes. We would very much like your support in one or more of these ways:

  • Programme volunteers can work in one or more of our established programmes
  • Individual volunteers can use a CGHP scholarship to fund independent volunteering
  • Institutions in the UK can help us to tie healthcare volunteering in to our highly successful programme and actively support staff to engage with our activities
  • Health institutions in other countries can work with us to create or further develop a programme
  • Office volunteers can help us to administer and deliver our central work
  • Donors, at whatever level, can enable us to continue and grow our services.

Healthcare professionals can

  • join our active network of individuals interested in global health
  • contact us for advice and guidance on global health volunteering
  • work with us on a voluntary basis in one or more of our established programme or use a CGHP scholarship to fund independent international healthcare related voluntary work

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