DFA Logo

This content from the
Department of Foreign Affairs
has moved to Ireland.ie/irish-aid. If you are not redirected in 5 seconds, click here.

Skip to main content

This content from the Department of Foreign Affairs has moved to Ireland.ie/irish-aid

Minister for Trade and Development launches major global health initiative

Health, News/feature, Ireland, Africa, 2013

Minister for Trade and Development, Joe Costello TD today launched an innovative programme to tackle HIV and improve healthcare for women and babies in Africa and Asia by twinning Irish hospitals with counterparts in the developing world to share skills and experience.


Launched today, Esther Ireland is led by a partnership between the Health Service Executive (HSE) and Irish Aid which forms part of a wider European alliance of hospitals and healthcare institutions working with the developing world.


Ireland has approved its first two Esther partnerships: Cork University Maternity’s Hospital’s partnership with the Omdurman Maternity Hospital in Sudan and the collaboration programme between the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland and the College of Surgeons of East, Central and Southern Africa.


Speaking at the launch in the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, Minister Costello said:


“I am delighted today to launch the ESTHER Ireland programme. This initiative will promote skill-sharing partnerships in countries with the greatest health needs. 


“We are already seeing very encouraging results: the partnership between Cork University Hospital and the Omdurman Maternity Hospital in Sudan is associated with an 86 per cent reduction in maternal mortality and a 50 percent drop in stillbirths and early neonatal deaths.


“Partnerships such as these will contribute to major, sustainable improvement to health systems in those countries which are most vulnerable. They will also benefit Irish health professionals, who will gain invaluable experience and new skills.  The Government’s new Policy on International Development commits us to harnessing the skills of Irish health experts and institutions to improve access to quality essential health services.


Ireland will focus on partnerships in Africa and draw upon the extensive first-hand experience that many health workers in Ireland have gained from working overseas.


Speaking at the launch, Tony O’Brien, Director General Designate of the HSE said: “ESTHER Ireland builds on links already established by Irish health institutions with developing countries.  The partnership approach means there are benefits on both sides, and the programme will contribute to improving quality of health care in Ireland as well as in the partner countries.”


For more information on ESTHER Ireland, see www.esther.ie

For more information on the ESTHER Alliance, see www.esther.eu

To arrange interviews, please call: Leonie Corcoran, ESTHER Ireland, leonie@globalhealth.ie or + 353 86 852 6535.


Note to the Editor:


  • The ESTHER Alliance is a French acronym for ‘Together for a Networked Hospital Therapeutic Solidarity’. Members include France, Italy, Spain, Germany, Norway and Switzerland. It is  active in over 40 partner countries Africa, southeast Asia, Central and South America, the Middle East and southeast Europe with more than 120 projects being supported. The Alliance is committed to developing high quality partnerships and ESTHER projects are based on best development practice. 


  • ESTHER Ireland aims to strengthen health systems and particularly human resources so as to tackle HIV and other major diseases and to improve women, children and newborn health in Africa and Asia.  It will use the twinning model to foster effective north-south and south-south partnerships.
  • ESTHER Ireland will be directed and overseen by a steering group with membership from the HSE, Irish Aid, Irish hospitals and the Irish Forum for Global Health. 


  • Irish Aid is the Government’s programme of overseas assistance. It is managed by the Development Cooperation Division of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.  Further information is available at www.irishaid.ie.   


  • Ireland’s membership of ESTHER follows a Memorandum of Understanding signed between the HSE and Irish Aid in 2010, in support of health needs in less developed countries.  The strategy of institutional partnerships enables health staff to contribute to other countries while still working in Ireland. 

The expected benefits include a sharing of experiences and lessons; coordination of the different partnerships currently working and/or under development; problem-solving with peers; opportunity to press for and encourage good practice; and development of joint initiatives within Ireland and with other countries.