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Amref and GSK: Thirty Years Strong

30 years ago, Amref Health Africa and GSK joined forces to distribute bed nets to communities at risk of malaria.

In the years following, we continued to work together with communities across Eastern and Southern Africa on HIV prevention, sanitation, and non-communicable disease prevention projects. In 1998, we introduced the PHASE programme in Kenya to teach children the importance of hand-washing and good hygiene practice. This programme has since been rolled out across 16 countries, reaching more than 1.5 million children. 
Timeline of Amref and GSK partnership with milestones

Investing in Health

In 2011, our partnership evolved once more, as we teamed up to establish a frontline health worker programme through the GSK 20% Reinvestment Initiative and Amref’s country programmes across sub-Saharan Africa. GSK committed to reinvest 20% of the profits it makes in the world’s least developed countries back into projects that strengthen their healthcare infrastructure, and Amref’s presence and expertise in 17 countries across Eastern and Southern Africa means we are well placed to ensure this investment has the best possible impact. We believe that by working together, we can improve healthcare infrastructure in Africa in the long term, saving and changing lives across the continent.

The Challenge

In Tanzania, only 50% of pregnant women are assisted during childbirth by a doctor or other trained health worker. The maternal mortality rate stands at 460 deaths per every 100,000 live births, and a woman in Tanzania has a 1 in 38 lifetime risk of dying due to complications arising from pregnancy and childbirth. 
We don’t think that’s acceptable, and we’re working to change it. Amref and GSK know that frontline health workers, living and working in the community, provide life-saving healthcare advice, medicines and vaccines. To date, our health worker training programme has reached more than four million people in Eastern and Southern Africa, and together we have trained more than 10,000 health workers across 17 African countries. 

Our Innovative Approach

The programme seeks to improve the health of people living in Eastern and Southern Africa by tackling challenges including health worker shortages, insufficient training opportunities, high attrition rates, low job satisfaction, and poor distribution of existing human resources for health. Our strategy for addressing these barriers has three key pillars: 
  1. training and mentoring of health workers; 
  2. building the capacity of training institutions and health facilities; 
  3. supporting Ministries of Health to develop policies, guidelines and standards for health worker development.
Innovation is key to our strategy, particularly in the way we train health workers in remote areas. We’ve also pioneered eLearning approaches in much of our health worker training, which means that even those in remote areas have been able to access the resources they need to deliver essential care to their community.
We are also making the most of our shared values and varied skillsets, welcoming GSK staff with expertise in finance, communications and many more areas, into Amref offices across Europe and Africa, through GSK’s PULSE employee volunteering scheme.

Our Impact

Marion Tumuhimbise is a 37-year-old midwife at Rubaga Hospital in Kampala, Central Uganda. Already a qualified midwife, she wanted to continue to build her skills - but between working full-time and raising a family of five, she wasn't sure where she would find the time. Then she discovered Amref Health Africa’s eLearning programme, supported by the GSK 20% Reinvestment Initiative. Read her story.
Below are just some of the amazing things we have accomplished together in the past thirty years. 
Infographic summarising achievements of Amref / GSK partnership