The Public Health Nursing Series is a 20-blog collection, written by William (Billy) Rosa, author of the recently released title, Nurses as Leaders: Evolutionary Visions of Leadership (June 2016), that sparks a dialogue about each and every nurse's role in advancing and creating the future of global health. With a focus on cultural considerations and the current status of healthcare in nations worldwide, nurses will learn how they are called to contribute to each of the United Nations' 17 Sustainable Development Goals, an international initiative that seeks to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all over the next 15 years.This series makes the case that every nurse, regardless of title, position, or credential, is a public health leader.

Sustainable Development Goal #17 – Partnerships

Partnerships can be a bit of a tricky business. Under the guise of very good intentions and altruistic motives, I have observed time and time again health professionals who often state, “Let’s partner together,” while subconsciously (or consciously) meaning, “Let’s work together, I’ll take the lead and show you how its done, and please ask if there are any questions.” There may at times be an inherent presumption of our superior knowledge and the other’s need for education: reflections of the cultural arrogance discussed earlier in this series. We see these paternalistic remnants throughout medicine and in environments where expertise is sought after to improve systems and practices, particularly in global healthcare settings. But a true partnership implies mutual participation, shared accountability, equal contributions, and a joint commitment toward achieving the subjectively identified goals of the recipient party (Sliney, 2015).

Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) #17 seeks to “revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development” (United Nations Sustainable Development [UNSD], 2016). Since the SDGs are, indeed, global goals to transform the world, partnerships across socioeconomic status, gender, age, culture, religion, and developed and developing nations are vital to their successful realization by 2030. According to UNSD (2016), the SDG #17 partnership targets include radical and progressive outcomes in finance, technology, capacity building, trade, and global systems. More specifically, some of the goals include cohesive efforts to:

  • Mobilize additional financial resources to developing countries from myriad sources
  • Driving policy change to assist developing countries in attaining long-term debt sustainability
  • Develop, transfer, disseminate, and diffuse environmentally sound technologies to developing countries
  • Engage international support to implement capacity building programs in developing countries that support national plans to achieve all SDGs
  • Promote a universal, open, equitable, and non-discriminatory multilateral trading system under the auspices of the World Trade Organization
  • Enhance global macroeconomic stability through policy coordination and coherence
  • Promote effective public, public-private, and civil society partnerships

Public health nurses are vital to capacity building throughout international healthcare systems. With over 19 million nurses and midwives worldwide, we are the largest group of care providers bar none (World Health Organization, 2012). We have the numbers and knowledge base to exact meaningful change on a large scale.

However, we must be clear about how to build equitable and relevant partnerships to achieve the outcomes required. First, public health nurses need to know the resources available to them, be they human, financial, or material (Leffers, 2014). Nurses leverage each of these resources in their professional partnerships in order to maintain standards of excellence, and a shortage of any one may result in thwarted target achievements. Identifying the resources available and the mechanisms needed to retrieve them, along with understanding the relationships necessary for and barriers related to their implementation, give public health nurse partners an opportunity to successfully and efficiently plan.

Second, the qualities that constitute an effective partnership should be clearly delineated. Sliney (2015) shared that some of the elements of effective partnerships include: clearly identified purpose for the partnership, trust, accountability, equity, joint planning, and shared vision, goals, and evaluation processes. On the other hand, ineffective partnerships reflect priorities that are determined primarily by the donor agency, commitment imbalances between participants, cultural misunderstandings or insensitivity, and poor sustainability planning (Sliney, 2015). In continually reassessing the pattern developments occurring within partnerships and responding with appropriate solutions, public health nurses will be able to consciously sway unhealthy partnerships in the right direction.


Leffers, J.M. (2014). Resources for global health partnerships. In M.J. Upvall & J.M. Leffers (Eds.), Global health nursing: Building and sustaining partnerships (pp. 123-132). New York, NY: Springer.

Sliney, A. (2015). Global health partnerships. In S.E. Breakey, I.B. Corless, N.L. Meedzan, & P.K. Nicholas (Eds.), Global health nursing in the 21st century (pp. 103-111). New York, NY: Springer.

United Nations Sustainable Development (UNSD). (2016). Goal 17: Revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development. Retrieved from             sustainabledevelopment/globalpartnerships/

World Health Organization. (2012). Enhancing nursing and midwifery capacity to contribute to the prevention, treatment and management of noncommunicable diseases. Human Resources for Health Observer, (12). Retrieved from

More About the Author

William (Billy) Rosa, MS, RN, LMT, AHN-BC, AGPCNP-BC, CCRN-CMC, is currently Visiting Faculty, University of Rwanda and ICU Clinical Educator, Rwanda Military Hospital, Human Resources for Health Program in partnership with the New York University Rory Meyers College of Nursing. He currently has over 65 publications for refereed and non-refereed journals, newspapers, magazines, and national platform blogs and his book, Nurses as Leaders: Evolutionary Visions of Leadership, was recently published by Springer Publishing in June 2016. Billy currently sits on the US Advisory Board for the Nightingale Initiative for Global Health, and most recently received the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses' 2015 National Circle of Excellence Award and the Association for Nursing Professional Development's 2015 National Change Agent/Team Member Award.

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Part 1 -  Understanding the Nurse as a Public Health Leader