Global Health Partnerships During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Perspectives and Insights from International Partners

Am J Trop Med Hyg. 2021 Jun 28;105(2):407-412. doi: 10.4269/ajtmh.21-0156.


Global health partnerships (GHPs) have encountered many challenges during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. New perspectives and insights are needed to guide GHPs when navigating current and future collaborations. This study aimed to understand perspectives and insights of international partners regarding how the COVID-19 pandemic impacted their GHPs with institutions in the United States. We performed a cross-sectional qualitative study conducted through virtual semi-structured interviews performed between June 12, 2020 and July 22, 2020. We queried academic institutions based in the United States to refer individuals from their corresponding international GHP organizations. We invited these individuals to participate in virtual interviews that were audio-recorded and transcribed. We analyzed data qualitatively to identify themes. Eighty-four United States partners provided e-mail addresses for international partners. Ten individuals from these GHPs completed the interview. Participants reported overall positive experiences with their United States-based partners during the pandemic. The following themes emerged: imbalanced decision-making; worry about partnership continuity; opportunity to optimize communication within partnerships; interest in incorporating technology to facilitate engagement; and a desire for increased bilateral exchanges. Several challenges appeared to exist before COVID-19 and were highlighted by the pandemic. Most respondents were optimistic regarding the future of their GHPs. However, concerns were expressed regarding the implications of fewer in-person international experiences with United States trainees and the desire for stronger communication. Although our results do not represent the perspectives and insights of all GHPs, they provide considerations for the future. We urge institutions in the United States to re-examine and strive for equitable relationships with their international partners.

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19 / epidemiology
  • COVID-19 / prevention & control*
  • Clinical Decision-Making
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Global Health*
  • Health Communication
  • Humans
  • International Cooperation*
  • Internationality*
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Organizations*
  • SARS-CoV-2 / pathogenicity
  • Training Support
  • United States