"The purpose of development is creating the conditions where assistance is no longer needed," said U.S. President Barack Obama at the recent Millennium Development Goal Summit in New York. "So we will seek partners who want to build their own capacity to provide for their people."
With this in mind, the United States will invest $130 million over the next 5 years to transform African medical education and increase the number of health care workers on the continent. The funding will also help build research capacity in African institutions to enable them to play a larger role in studying their own health needs, and in providing solutions.
The Medical Education Partnership Initiative, the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services are awarding grants to thirteen African institutions in 12 countries. These institutions will work in partnership with about 30 African organizations and 20 U.S. medical schools to train health care personnel in various medical skills, including surgery, childbirth and infant care.
This initiative is answering a great need in sub-Saharan Africa, which bears 24 percent of the world's disease burden, but has just 3 percent of the world's health workforce.
"Non-communicable diseases, such as maternal-child health issues, cardiovascular disease, cancer and mental illness, represent the fastest-growing causes of morbidity and mortality in sub-Saharan Africa," said Dr. Francis Collins, Director of the U.S. National Institutes of Health. "It is vital that we develop medical and research capacity in sub-Saharan Africa so that advances can be quickly adapted for local use."
"No country wants to be dependent on another," said President Obama. "No proud leader . . . wants to ask for aid. No family wants to be beholden to the assistance of others." The African Medical Education Grants will support African leadership of health programs.