The 6th MEPI/NEPI Symposium gives birth to the African Forum for Research and Education in Health, AFREhealth.

The African Centre for Global Health and Social Transformation, the former Coordinating Centre for Medical Education Partnership Initiative (MEPI) together with the Nurses Education Partnership Initiative (NEPI) and University of Nairobi organized the 6th MEPI/NEPI Annual Symposium with the theme: Tackling Africa’s Health Challenges: Promoting Health Professions Education, Practice, Research and Retention of Health Workers.
The three days symposium ran from 2nd -4th August 2016 at Laico Regency Hotel in Nairobi, Kenya. It brought together Professors, Doctors, Ministers of Health and Education, Academia, Media, Social Scientists, Students, among others from Uganda, Tanzania, Sudan, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Ghana, Nigeria, Canada, UK and USA.
ACHESTs, Prof. Francis Omaswa, Dr. Patrick Kadama and Dr. Peter Eriki at the Symposium in NairobiACHESTs, Prof. Francis Omaswa, Dr. Patrick Kadama and Dr. Peter Eriki at the Symposium in NairobiDuring the 6th Annual Symposium, African Forum for Research and Education in Health AFREhealth was launched as a sustainability measure and way forward for MEPI/NEPI. AfreHealth is an initiative that will be led and managed by the Africans in collaboration with partner organizations to promote research and education updates in member institutions. Training and capacity building of health professionals in research and teaching methods will constitute a core activity that will not only improve the caliber of health professionals on the continent, but will also facilitate access to grants in support of research which is critically needed in our search for new and innovative ways to treat the high disease burden.
Professor Francis Omaswa, the Executive Director of African Centre for Global Health and Social Transformation (ACHEST) while co-moderating two plenary sessions on; Perspectives from Development Partners and MEPI/NEPI Sustainability and way forward, thanked the development partners for the five year partnership and funding initiative towards MEPI/NEPI. Prof. Omaswa noted that, AFREhealth, just like MEPI/NEPI will thrive as Africa continues to grow stronger. He noted that so many good things happen in Africa, but very little is documented and the bad ones get to be transmitted faster than the good ones.
Meanwhile Prof. Peter Donkor, Professor at Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, who is the Incoming Chair of the expanded PI council while receiving the leadership mantle of chairmanship at the closing session urged Africans to commit to solving their own problems and only look to the foreign partners for assistance .He noted that AfreHealth is a perfect opportunity for Africans to advance research and Education in the region. “He urged African Health leaders to dialogue with their governments and political leaders in order to establish transparent and relevant systems that will birth a leadership that is committed to delivering success. I am convinced that USA will support on this.” Prof. Donkor noted.
Dr. Cleopa Mailu, EBS, Cabinet Secretary for Health, Prof Francis Omaswa, Dr. Onesmas Gachuno and Dr. Elsie Kiguli-Malwadde discussing at the SymposiumGovernment of Kenya when giving his closing remarks advised that strategic partnerships and investment in research and community involvement will be a worthwhile venture for the growth of AFREhealth.
The Symposium format included plenary, panel, breakaway presentation sessions and workshops. During the plenary sessions ACHEST staff, Dr. Peter Eriki, Director, Health Systems presented on Research Priorities on Maternal Newborn and Child Health, Dr. Patrick Kadama, Director, Policy and Strategy presented on Defining Roles and Promoting Synergies in Practic, Dr. Elsie Kiguli-Malwadde, Director of Health workforce, Education and Development co-convened a workshop on Partnerships for Impact on Health Professions Education: Sharing Best Practices among many other presentations.
ACHEST rented an exhibition booth at the Symposium for three days where it exhibited education information and communication publications that included; advocacy factsheets, brochures, reports and books to more than two hundred (200) participants that attended the symposium. The publications that were exhibited included among others: The African Health Leaders book, Strong Ministries for Strong Health book and handbook, The Health Systems Advocacy Project factsheets, Global Strategy on human resources for health workforce 2013, The Migration of Health workforce brochures. A 10 minutes documentary on the Migration of Health Workforce project was also screened.
MEPI/NEPI was a response to the health workforce crisis in Africa that HIV/AIDS highlighted as it swept across the continent causing massive morbidity and mortality. The severe shortage of skilled health workers proved to be a key limiting factor in combating the crisis despite the considerable resources that were mobilized through PEPFAR and others. MEPI conception as part of the PEPFAR response to this challenge was guided by five themes that included: 1) Increasing the numbers and improving the quality of graduates 2) Promoting retention of graduates where they are most needed 3) Improving capacity for regionally relevant research 4) Building communities of practice within Africa and globally and 5) Ensuring sustainability.
The success of MEPI over the five years transformed and strengthened medical education across Africa through support from HRSA and PEPFAR/NIH grant, the Medical Education Partnership Initiative brought together 32 African and 20 US institutions for five year partnership programme aimed at strengthening medical education systems and clinical and research capacities in Africa.