The US Government through PEPFAR (Presidents Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief), HRSA and NIH awarded grants to 13 African Medical Schools (institutions) in 12 countries, forming a network of 30 regional partners, health and education ministries and more than 20 U.S. Collaborators.
These grants were given directly to the African institutions that were given a choice to form partnerships with institutions from the South or the USA. The MEPI grants are aimed at improving and transforming African medical education with three goals: to improve the quality, numbers and retention of graduates, to strengthen research capacity and to innovate. This will be achieved through strengthening collaboration between medical education systems and health systems in the countries with a view to producing a new generation of health professionals who are accountable for the health outcomes of the populations that they serve.
In partnership with the George Washington University, ACHEST is the MEPI African Coordinating Centre (ACC) under the leadership of Francis Omaswa who is the PI of the ACC. As Coordinating Center, ACHEST plays the following roles:
• Establish itself with evaluative and operational capacities in the area of Medical education and research.
Assist the GW MEPI-CC in developing the program of evaluation, technical assistance and communication of the MEPI project
• Identify best practices in medical education and training and share information through the development of a web-based platform.
• Progressively assume as many functions as possible and in 5 years to be fully responsible for supporting the MEPI Grantees achieve their objectives.
• Provide a central point of expertise to assist the grantees in tracking faculty and student training and retention, and providing technical assistance in developing national policies, public-private partnerships, and networks to support the advancement of medical education and health services research in Sub-Saharan Africa.
To help promote accreditation and certification of initiatives in the region
As a Coordinating Center, ACHEST in conjunction with a team from George Washington University Coordinating Center, works with the entire MEPI program and linked award grantees in improving medical education and research in Sub-Saharan Africa. Our vision is to see MEPI as an entry point for catalyzing the transformation of health workforce education and training in Africa resulting in a new generation of health professionals who are accountable for the health outcomes of their populations. Our strategy is to evolve over the five year period of the grant into an expert institution that can contribute to improvement of medical education, research and health services in the region. This will be done by using the first year to plan develop, recruit appropriate human resource with expertise in African Medical Education evaluation and communications. Year two and three will be focused on building capacity in Medical Education evaluation and technical support. Year four and five will see us consolidating, stabilizing and sustaining these capabilities.
The added value of ACHEST
The African Coordinating Centre has constituted a team of seven African leaders in Medical Education who bring with them a wealth of experience from the sub-Saharan Africa. The team members and advisors have all worked in Sub-Saharan Africa for a long time and specifically in the area of Medical Education and Research. They were members of the Sub-Saharan African Medical Education Study Advisory Committee which experience enhanced their understanding of the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats and challenges in the region. The team is based in the region and the advisors are from all regions of the continent with vast knowledge about the systems in medicine and education and how they work. They also bring in cultural diversity and understanding which is vital when working in this region.
Francis Omaswa who is the PI for the ACC and the Executive Director for ACHEST, has a unique experience combining having worked as a high tech Cardiothoracic surgeon and a rural general duty physician in Uganda during very difficult times. He has also worked as a university professor in Africa, Director General of Ministry of Health and internationally as the founding Executive Director of the Global Health Workforce Alliance. He has valuable contacts in the entire region and globally and was Co Chair on the Sub Saharan African Medical Schools Study SAMSS.
Elsie Kiguli-Malwadde who is the Director of the ACC has until December 2010 been an associate professor and head of department of Radiology at the College of Health Sciences, Makerere University. She has worked with Makerere University for 14 years rising through the ranks and understands very well the challenges of Medical Education in sub-Saharan Africa. Apart from her radiology training she is a fellow of the Foundation for the Advancement of Medical Education and Research (FAIMER). She also holds a Masters in Health Professions Education from Maastricht University in the Netherlands. She brings with her the experience of hands on educator and special interest in innovative education.
The Advisory Team comprises of renown professors from the region including;
• Professor Jehu Iputo; Director, School of Medicine Faculty of Health Sciences, Walter Sisulu, University, Republic of South Africa.
• Dr. Mwapatsa Mipando; Dean of Students & Head of Physiology Department, University of Malawi College of Medicine.
• Dr. E. OluwabunmiOlapadeOlaopa; Senior Lecturer, Department of Surgery, College of Medicine, University of Ibadan, Nigeria.
• Professor Paschalis Rugarabamu; Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Academic Affairs, Hubert Kairuki Memorial University, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
• Professor Karim Abdel Koumare; Prof. of Anatomy & Surgery, Faculty of Medicine, University of Mali.
• DrHaliemalak Abraham, Vice President for Health Services and Local Training Facilities, Jimma University, Ethiopia.
• Professor DiaaElDin ElgaliAbubakr; Director Education, Development, and Research Centre, Professor of Psychiatry, Head, Department of Mental Health Faculty of Medicine University of Gezira Sudan.
These are all experienced medical educators who have worked hard to ensure that medical education in the region flourishes against all odds. They bring with them a regional and yet global experience in medical Education. They are committed to ensure high standards of medical education with the aim of retaining the health professions they train to improve health in the region.
How we relate with GW-CC
The principles governing the relationship with GW-CC and the ACC will be
Active collaborative participation
Mutual respect, sharing of ideas, knowledge and experience