Global health, science and practice 2018 03 306(1) 82-92 doi 10.9745/GHSP-D-17-00052
Sub-Saharan Africa has an inadequate number of health professionals, leading to a reduced capacity to respond to health challenges, including HIV/AIDS. From 2010 to 2015, the Medical Education Partnership Initiative (MEPI)-sponsored by the U.S. Presidents Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH)-was enthusiastically taken up by the University of Zimbabwe College of Health Sciences (UZCHS) and 12 other sub-Saharan African universities to develop models of training to improve medical education and research capacity. In this article, we describe the outcomes and challenges of MEPI in Zimbabwe.
UZCHS in partnership with the University of Colorado, Denver; Stanford University; University of Cape Town; University College London; and King’s College London designed the Novel Education Clinical Trainees and Researchers (NECTAR) program and 2 linked awards addressing cardiovascular disease and mental health to pursue MEPI objectives. A range of medical education and research capacity-focused programs were implemented, including faculty development, research support, mentored scholars, visiting professors, community-based education, information and technology support, cross-cutting curricula, and collaboration with partner universities and the ministries of health and education. We analyzed quantitative and qualitative data from several data sources, including annual surveys of faculty, students, and other stakeholders; workshop exit surveys; and key informant interviews with NECTAR administrators and leaders and the UZCHS dean.
Improved Internet connectivity and electronic resource availability were early successes of NECTAR. Over the 5-year period, 69% (115 of 166) of faculty members attended at least 1 of 15 faculty development workshops. Forty-one faculty members underwent 1-year advanced faculty development training in medical education and leadership. Thirty-three mentored research scholars were trained under NECTAR, and 52 and 12 in cardiovascular and mental health programs, respectively. Twelve MEPI scholars had joined faculty by 2015. Full-time faculty grew by 36% (122 to 166), annual postgraduate and medical student enrollment increased by 61% (75 to 121) and 71% (123 to 210), respectively. To institutionalize and sustain MEPI innovations, the Research Support Center and the Department of Health Professions Education were established at UZCHS.
MEPI has synergistically revitalized medical education, research capacity, and leadership at UZCHS. Investments in creating a new research center, health professions education department, and, programs have laid the foundation to help sustain faculty development and research capacity in the country.