The Binds of Global Health Partnership: Working out Working Together in Sierra Leone

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Photo Credit: Clare Herrick

Abstract

Global health partnerships (GHPs) are the conceptual cousin of partnerships in the development sphere. Since their emergence in the 1990s, the GHP mode of working and funding has mainly been applied to single‐disease, vertical interventions. However, GHPs are increasingly being used to enact Health Systems Strengthening and to address the global health worker shortage. In contrast to other critical explorations of GHPs, we explore in this article how the fact, act, and aspiration of binding different actors together around the ideology and modes of partnership working produces the perpetual state of being in a bind. This is an original analytical framework drawing on research in Sierra Leone and London. We offer new insights into the ways in which GHPs function and are experienced, showing that along with the successes of partnership work, such arrangements are often and unavoidably tense, uncomfortable, and a source of frustration and angst.