Dr Mike Basler reflects on the challenges and rewards of building long-term international partnerships for healthcare training and education.
"Link formation is a long process. Trust needs to be established. Small goals can lead to larger achievements.
It is important to recognise the organisational, cultural and political pressures on both sides. Any change that impoverishes health care workers or the local service as well as an individual’s status never work. Bureaucracy occurs on both sides of any development project.
Grant applications can seem like a Gordian knot and developmental priorities can skew the aims and sap the energy from projects.
If funding can be found independently it makes things easier. Both sides need to obtain something practical out of the link to promote respect as well as permanence in difficult times.
Be aware that other donors and charitable organisations may suddenly appear as co-workers on your project as developmental partners seek to maximize funding.
This can cause difficulties. Where charitable work is occurring, people can take offence easily. Take advantage of serendipity. IT can be your enemy and your friend. Clear IT goals are needed and these need to consider developmental infrastructure.
Any medical material donations need to be compatible with local systems.
Most of all surround yourself with like-minded and flexible individuals who do not take things too seriously. As one of the local health care workers stated “Entropy is Normal.”
Mr S Watson and Dr M Basler on behalf of the Canniesburn Plastic Surgery Unit, with thanks to Resurge Africa.