Although it bears 24% of the global disease burden, Africa has only 3% of the world’s healthcare workers. To address this issue, the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) is providing $130 million over five years to African institutions in twelve countries. The Medical Education Partnership Initiative (MEPI) provides funding to help train new Africa-based healthcare workers and improve medical education across the continent.
The University of Botswana School of Medicine (UBSOM), the first medical school in the country, has been awarded a MEPI grant of about $2 million a year for five years. Partnering with the Botswana Harvard AIDS Institute Partnership (BHP) and the University of Pennsylvania, UBSOM will offer public health training, strengthen mentoring to students and residents, and provide continuing medical education to clinicians and faculty.
By collaborating with established institutions, UBSOM can offer affiliated appointments that will help attract and retain talented faculty members and establish a rigorous academic environment. This collaboration will help to improve Botswana’s capacity to deliver healthcare. At the same time, the MEPI-funded programs will encourage young doctors and nurses to remain in Botswana, counteracting the exodus of healthcare workers who often leave for more lucrative positions in the West and elsewhere.