Francis Omaswa, CEO of the African Centre for Global Health and Social Transformation, outlines four steps needed to tackle the health workforce crisis in Africa, in the March 2011 issue of Africa Health. Professor Omaswa characterizes the crisis as widespread shortages, maldistribution, and poor working conditions and points to recent studies and commissions calling for major reforms in the education of health professionals, such as the Lancet Commission report.
The four challenges in the region that he says need to be overcome:
• The education systems and the health systems need to be synchronized so graduates are trained for what is needed and where they are needed. Training of health professional should be part of National Development Plans—engaging stakeholders within and outside of government.
• Teaching hospitals are often neglected and under-funded, and as a result are overcrowded, poorly equipped and inefficient.
• There are huge shortages of teachers in medical schools (per the Sub-Saharan African Medical Schools Survey) and probably in nursing, pharmacy and paramedical schools as well.
• Regulatory bodies such as professional councils are under-funded, but needed to assure quality of training.
He cites hopeful progress: Ethiopia and Malawi’s education reforms, WHO’s effort to develop global guidelines on transformative medical and nursing education, and the U.S. government’s Medical Education Partnership Initiative (MEPI) and NEPI (nursing education).
Reference: Africa Health, March 2011, p. 7
Click here to read Professor Omaswa’s entire opinion piece.