Last week, we launched our first Summer Series webinar, discussing the value of partnerships during Covid-19. More than 50 people joined us to welcome Alex Harris (Wellcome Trust), Claire Hitchcock (GSK) and Tom Cotter (Project Hope) in a session hosted by our chief executive Adele Paterson.


Our first webinar in the Summer Series – a virtual series that replaces our traditional Sharing Best Practice Workshop this year – took an in-depth look at the value of partnership during Covid-19. Click here to watch the session or check back for the edited highlights: and don’t miss registering for our second Summer Series webinar on Wednesday 15th July. 

In a lively hour of insights and answers, our speakers examined Covid-19 impacts on global healthcare, discussed what’s helping us to make progress against the virus, acknowledged the value of gifts-in-kind and development of new models for unprecedented times, and considered ‘what’s next’.

“[Covid-19] is not just a health issue: it’s about lives and livelihoods, our economies, the fabric of society – and when you calculate those costs... we’re looking at something with much greater impact than just the number of cases reported,” said Alex Harris, Head of Global Policy and Advocacy at Wellcome. “There is a way out, one that speaks to the real value of IHP, an organisation that’s dedicated [to] thinking innovatively. It’s about true partnership, cooperation, and how we allocate scarce resources.”

Claire Hitchcock, Director of Community Partnerships at GSK, spoke of the importance of partnering with IHP and others to address emergency and humanitarian situations. “This network we are involved with is so important,” she said. GSK is collaborating with tech partners and has launched an initiative with Sanofi to develop an adjuvanted vaccine for Covid-19, contributing technology to reduce the amount of protein required per dose, which will allow more to be produced. “I’ve been with GSK for nearly 20 years and would never have thought this kind of collaboration possible,” Claire said.

New modes of partnership are emerging, pointed out Tom Cotter, Director of Emergency Response and Preparedness at NGO Project Hope. “Old models we’ve relied on for decades don’t apply as much: we have to find new ways to approach the way we do global health [and] emergency response”. All three panelists agreed that with Covid-19, ‘business as usual’ is suspended. “We need to be taking significantly more risk than we have done in the past; to think about compressing timelines and business processes,” said Alex.

NGOs can’t send Americans or Europeans to sudden-onset disaster areas any longer, Tom noted. “It’s irresponsible to send someone from the US anywhere in the world right now because we might be contributing to the spread... We have to break this reliance on human resources deployment, and find local partnerships, to build capacity before disasters hit.” Decentralisation is the main takeaway message, he said. “Our job [as a large international NGO] is not to find solutions and fix problems but to come in and support other, smaller local NGOs to fix their own problems. This is going to be massive, going forward.”

IHP is a “thought leader, getting people together to think of different collaborations”, he added. Alex pointed to the increasing value – in Covid-19 times – of the gift-in-kind donations IHP facilitates, helping our in-country partners to address comorbidities (secondary health conditions). “IHP is playing an absolutely critical role... offering countries and governments a bit of relief to make clearer decisions on what they can and can’t do, at a time when... economies are shrinking.”

Our CEO Adele Paterson sums up: “In normal times, partnership is vital in securing global health improvements. Covid-19 has accelerated many necessary developments, including cross-sector collaboration. The clear message from our first online seminar is that when partnerships are effective, we can make groundbreaking advances. We need more of this to ensure everyone has access to healthcare in the future.”

Register now for our second webinar (July 15) to discuss whether there will be a new role for product donations post Covid-19. Our speakers will include Elizabeth Ashbourne (PQMD), Mark Repath (Janssen) and Marissa Pledger (Fondation Panzi DRC).