ESTHER University and Hospital Partnerships in Africa

Project description

Title: Africa Regional - ESTHER Alliance: University and Hospital Partnerships in the Health Systems Strengthening Sector
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: Africa regional
Overall term: 2016 to 2019


During the 2015 Ebola epidemic in West Africa, many cases of Ebola were identified too late, and instructions from health care personnel were ignored. One of the main reasons for this was a general lack of trust in the health care services. Government institutions responsible for protecting and promoting public health in weak health care systems are unable to provide effective, safe and efficient services that everyone can access.

According to estimates published by the World Health Organization (WHO), one out of ten patients receiving treatment is harmed owing to errors during the treatment and care process. Over 80 per cent of these errors could be prevented by the provision of higher quality care. While health care systems in European countries are increasingly adopting policies of active error management, the conditions for ensuring patient safety in African countries with weak health systems are still inadequate.


The conditions for ensuring patient safety in selected African countries have improved through ESTHER university and hospital partnerships.


In accordance with Health in Africa, a special programme launched by the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), GIZ is assisting those West African states affected by Ebola as well as countries with especially weak health care systems. University and hospital partnerships between German and African health facilities mobilise specialist medical skills and management and governance capabilities in both Germany and Africa in order to enhance patient safety in African health care services.

Drawing on the many years of experience gained by the supraregional network of the European ESTHER Alliance (in particular ESTHER Germany), the project works in three fields of activity to:

  1. Initiate and support institutional health partnerships focusing on patient safety;
  2. Establish mechanisms to facilitate ongoing learning based on the experience emerging from the partnerships;
  3. Network actors, funders and interested parties.

With patient wellbeing as the primary concern, the project sets out to improve patient safety by focusing on scientifically sound, practicable solutions for urgent issues affecting the quality of care (for example the risk of infection and resistance to antibiotics).

Within the university and hospital partnerships, activities are being undertaken to train staff, improve laboratory services and hygiene standards, and strengthen quality consciousness at management level. These twinning arrangements enable the project to foster individual and global learning for the benefit of patient safety, through continuing lessons learned (at regional and supraregional level) in the course of project implementation and the networking of stakeholders.

The project’s key partners are the European ESTHER Alliance and WHO, with work also being conducted in close coordination with France and the bilateral health programmes of German development cooperation.