Introducing GSK’s Frontline Health Worker Partnership

Introducing GSK’s Frontline Health Worker Partnership; a multi-sectoral approach to training health workers and strengthening health systems across Africa.

GSK, CARE International UK, Amref Health Africa and Save the Children


The Frontline Health Worker programme is a partnership between GSK, Amref Health Africa, CARE International and Save the Children, working to tackle the chronic global shortage of health workers, expected to rise to 18m by 2030.[i] In one of the largest private sector-NGO partnerships in the world focussed on frontline health workers,  we are working together to help shape a world where everyone, everywhere has access to affordable, quality healthcare.

The question of how to harness the role of health workers most effectively towards achieving Universal Health Coverage, (UHC),  is vital. We are looking forward to exploring this challenge on Thursday 7th March, (Day 3), in a satellite session bringing together government, NGO, and private sector stakeholders and hosted by Amref Health Africa’s Institute of Capacity Development.

The global shortage of a well-trained and skilled health workforce is a significant barrier to the attainment of UHC . Globally, the uneven distribution of health workers means that about 1 billion people lack access to health care services.  Addressing the shortage and developing a well-trained and motivated health workforce is therefore paramount if we are to build the strong health systems necessary for achieving UHC.  Our Frontline Health Worker partnership is an ambitious one, helping to address this challenge and bringing innovative and sustainable healthcare programmes to 44 countries across Africa and Asia.

The partnership represents one of the biggest private sector-NGO partnerships in the world focussed on frontline health workers. Since 2009, together, we have:

  • invested £33m, funded by GSK
  • launched long-term projects in 44 countries, including sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, Haiti and Yemen
  • trained over 67,000 frontline health workers
  • reached 10.8m people with improved healthcare


Breaking new ground and tackling barriers

Some of our programmes have broken new ground, not only directly delivering frontline healthcare to save lives but also changing the policies that put those lives at risk. For example, in April 2016, the government of Burkina Faso announced free healthcare for children under five and pregnant women. This ground-breaking new legislation, advocated by the ‘My Voice, Children’s Health’ campaign, was the culmination of years of campaigning from Save the Children with vital financial support from GSK. Save the Children and GSK have been working since 2015 to improve maternal and child health in the Cascade region of Burkina Faso.

Other programmes within the partnership have focussed on tackling the barriers that can prevent current or potential frontline health workers from continuing their training. In Tanzania, for example, over 2,000 frontline health workers are building their skills through Amref Health Africa’s eLearning programme, supported by GSK. The flexible format means they can continue their life-saving work as they learn, remain close to home and balance work, learning and family commitments.


Collaborating with government in a multi-sectoral approach

In all of our programmes we work closely with national and local government, to ensure the programmes are relevant to national and local policies and needs. In Chad, for example, CARE International’s programme, supported by GSK, works to improve the quality of and access to district-level reproductive and maternal health services. The programme was developed in response to the Ministry of Health’s recommendations to expand CARE’s SAFPAC – Supporting Access to Family Planning and Post-Abortion Care model for fragile and crisis-affected settings. Focussing on youth friendly services, a high strategic priority for the District authorities, the programme has successfully integrated adolescent representatives into 10 Community Leader Associations, giving young people a seat at the table in community health decision making for the first time.


Investing for social impact and business sustainability

Investing in health system strengthening through training health workers delivers social impact through improved access to quality healthcare for communities and also helps give a platform for improved health and access to essential medicines and vaccines. This drives a long-term business benefit too.  As Dr Daryl Burnaby, Director, Frontline Healthworker Programmes, GSK, explains:

“We hope that demonstrating the benefits of investing in health workers will act as a catalyst for others to invest in and champion health workers.”


Satellite session, Thursday 7th March: ‘Harnessing the role of health workers towards achieving UHC’

Please join us for a 1-hour satellite session on Thursday 7th March, (Day 3), at 7.10am, on ‘Harnessing the role of Health Workers towards achieving UHC’, hosted by Amref Health Africa’s Institute of Capacity Development and featuring panellists from government, NGO and private sector partners.


[i] [i] Source: ‘World Will Lack 18m Health Workers by 2030 without Adequate Investment Warns UN’, BMJ, 22nd September 2016:

Leave a Reply