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HSE and RCPI renew commitment to address global inequalities in health

HSE and RCPI renew commitment to address global inequalities in health

Bernard Gloster, CEO of the Health Service Executive (HSE) and Professor Mary Horgan, President of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland, signed a Memorandum of Understanding, extending their partnership to deliver the EQUALS initiative for a further three years.

The EQUALS initiative seeks to improve healthcare in low-income countries by working in partnership with local health services to address the huge inequalities that exist in health globally, through the provision of equipment and training. EQUALS began in Zambia and has been extended to Uganda, and more recently, Ukraine.

The programme has evolved over the past ten years to support equipment and training needs at a national level in Zambia, including supporting the establishment of the Zambian College of Medicine and Surgery (ZACOMS).

“Now in its tenth year, I am honoured to continue this vital work in partnership with the HSE and our partners in Zambia, the Ministry of Health,” said Professor Mary Horgan, President of the Royal College of Physicians.

“The success of the collaboration is an example of how true partnership can thrive, strengthen and improve. Even during COVID times, this partnership continued to operate and navigate new challenges to deliver valuable equipment including PPE, and we shared knowledge and expertise throughout,” she said.

“This is an incredible milestone in a relationship which I am sure will continue far beyond these next three years.”

Bernard Gloster, CEO of the HSE, said the extension of this valuable partnership with the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland is part of the HSE’s ongoing response to addressing inequalities in health and healthcare globally.

"The EQUALS initiative is a great example of our collective responsiveness to Global citizenship and the global effort of sharing knowledge and strengthening partnerships between health systems,” he said.

Since its establishment in 2013, EQUALS has shipped 17 containers of medical equipment and supported the Zambian College of Medicine and Surgery in developing specialist training programmes.

Professor Victor Mukonka, Research Fellow at the National University of Ireland and Senior Lecturer at Copperbelt University, travelled from Zambia to attend the event on behalf of the Ministry of Health, Zambia, where he previously held the role of Director of Public Health and Research. 

Prof Mukonka has played a central role in the work of EQUALS in Zambia.

“Irish support has been very catalytic, pivotal and critical. People have invested their time and shown ongoing commitment throughout the partnership,” Prof Mukonka said during his keynote address.

“The medical equipment we have received, including endoscopes, ultrasound machines, anaesthetic machines, incubators, beds, saturation monitors, and ECGs, is used for both service delivery and training.

“The partnership has facilitated great advancements in medical training. We established the Zambia College of Medicine and Surgery (ZACOMS) and the Levy Mwanawasa Medical University with training hubs across the country. 203 doctors have graduated from our specialist training programmes in the past three years.”

The HSE and RCPI will continue to support the delivery of essential health services in Zambia and other countries in Africa by donating medical equipment and collaborating to strengthen medical training programmes.