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Minister Costello launches major global health initiative

Irish Aid, Press Releases, Europe, 2013

The Minister for Trade and Development, Joe Costello T.D., today launched an innovative programme to tackle HIV and improve healthcare for women and babies in Africa and Asia by twinning Irish hospitals with counterparts in the developing world to share skills and experience.

Launched today, Esther Ireland is led by a partnership between the Health Service Executive (HSE) and Irish Aid which forms part of a wider European alliance of hospitals and healthcare institutions working with the developing world.

Ireland has approved its first two Esther partnerships: Cork University Maternity’s Hospital’s partnership with the Omdurman Maternity Hospital in Sudan and the collaboration programme between the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland and the College of Surgeons of East, Central and Southern Africa.

Speaking at the launch in the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, Minister Costello said:

“I am delighted today to launch the ESTHER Ireland programme. This initiative will promote skill-sharing partnerships in countries with the greatest health needs. 

“We are already seeing very encouraging results: the partnership between Cork University Hospital and the Omdurman Maternity Hospital in Sudan is associated with an 86 per cent reduction in maternal mortality and a 50 percent drop in stillbirths and early neonatal deaths.

“Partnerships such as these will contribute to major, sustainable improvement to health systems in those countries which are most vulnerable. They will also benefit Irish health professionals, who will gain invaluable experience and new skills.  The Government’s new Policy on International Development commits us to harnessing the skills of Irish health experts and institutions to improve access to quality essential health services.

Ireland will focus on partnerships in Africa and draw upon the extensive first-hand experience that many health workers in Ireland have gained from working overseas.

Speaking at the launch, Tony O’Brien, Director General Designate of the HSE said: “ESTHER Ireland builds on links already established by Irish health institutions with developing countries.  The partnership approach means there are benefits on both sides, and the programme will contribute to improving quality of health care in Ireland as well as in the partner countries.”