The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recently awarded approximately $36.5 million over the next five years to promote junior faculty training in research careers at academic institutions in Africa.
This move is part of the Medical Education Partnership Initiative (MEPI), which started in 2010 and seeks to transform medical education in sub-Saharan Africa. The goal is to improve community-based training sites, upgrade curricula, and strengthen communications technology and e-learning resources.
A portion of the funds have been dedicated to offering faculty the proper research time and similar incentives that will encourage retention. Most of the funds went to junior level staff who do not have the resources needed to add research to their career paths.
Nearly a quarter of the world’s disease burden is based in sub-Saharan Africa, but despite these figures, just 3 percent of the health workforce in the world is in sub-Saharan Africa.
“Research must play an integral part in generating sustainable, quality health care in sub-Saharan Africa, which is the ultimate goal,” NIH Director Francis Collins said. “It is critical that we increase research capacity so Africans can carry out locally relevant investigations themselves, and develop the necessary expertise in areas such as bioethics, informatics, environmental science, and genomics. That will empower their participation in international collaborations.”