NHS Links: a new approach to international health links
For too long health links between the NHS and less developed countries have been an amateur pastime, say John Wright, Mike Silverman, and John Sloan. Here they explain how a new NHS network should help
More and more international health exchanges are taking place between hospitals and primary care organisations in the United Kingdom and those in developing countries. These health links have many benefits (box 1). Exchanges of health professionals can bring much needed expertise to poor communities and help improve access to appropriate health care. As developed countries struggle to rein in health budgets, they can learn a great deal from less developed countries about providing effective health care for a fraction of the cost.
Health links are also a powerful way to raise awareness among health professionals in the United Kingdom about the growing global inequalities in health. More than one million people work in the NHS and health links provide a chance to mobilise an untapped potential of enthusiasm and support.
As well as professional benefits there is also a wide variety of personal benefits. International exchange work can help to