Lessons from developing, implementing and sustaining a participatory partnership for children's surgical care in Tanzania.
Philipo GS., Nagraj S., Bokhary ZM., Lakhoo K.
Global surgery is an essential component of Universal Health Coverage. Surgical conditions account for almost one-third of the global burden of disease, with the majority of patients living in low-income and middle-income countries (LMICs). Children account for more than half of the global population; however, in many LMIC settings they have poor access to surgical care due to a lack of workforce and health system infrastructure to match the need for children's surgery. Surgical providers from high-income countries volunteer to visit LMICs and partner with the local providers to deliver surgical care and trainings to improve outcomes. However, some of these altruistic efforts fail. We aim to share our experience on developing, implementing and sustaining a partnership in global children's surgery in Tanzania. The use of participatory methods facilitated a successful 17-yearlong partnership, ensured a non-hierarchical environment and encouraged an understanding of the context, local needs, available resources and hospital capacity, including budget constraints, when codesigning solutions. We believe that participatory approaches are feasible and valuable in developing, implementing and sustaining global partnerships for children's surgery in LMICs.