BACKGROUND: Global 'twinning' relationships between healthcare organizations and institutions in low and high-resource settings have created growing opportunities for e-health partnerships which capitalize upon expanding information technology resources worldwide. E-learning approaches to medical education are increasingly popular but remain under-investigated, whilst a new emphasis on global health teaching has coincided with university budget cuts in many high income countries.
RESULTS: King's Somaliland Partnership (KSP) is a paired institutional partnership health link, supported by Tropical Health and Education Trust (THET), which works to strengthen the healthcare system and improve access to care through mutual exchange of skills, knowledge and experience between Somaliland and King's Health Partners, UK. Aqoon, meaning knowledge in Somali, is a peer-to-peer global mental health e-learning partnership between medical students at King's College London (KCL) and Hargeisa and Amoud Universities, Somaliland. It aims to extend the benefits of KSP's cross-cultural and global mental health education work to medical students and has reported positive results, including improved attitudes towards psychiatry in Somaliland students.
CONCLUSIONS: The process of devising, piloting, evaluating, refining, implementing, re-evaluating and again refining the Aqoon model has identified important barriers to successful partnership. This article describes lessons learned during this process, sharing principles and recommendations for readers wishing to expand their own global health link beyond qualified clinicians, to the healthcare professionals of the future.