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US-funded programme strengthens health workers knowledge base

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THE United States-funded Medical Education Partnership Initiative (MEPI) programme has strengthened the knowledge base and expertise of local health workers to improve their medical skills in the control of epidemics such as HIV and Aids.

By Phyllis Mbanje

Supported by the National Institute of Health and the President’s Emergency Plan for Aids Relief (Pepfar), the initiative was implemented and co-ordinated through the Novel Education Clinical Trainees and Researchers Programme (Nectar) at the University of Zimbabwe College of Health Sciences (UZCHS).

It was set up to address many challenges that affected the UZCHS especially in the past 10 years, such as variable and resource-driven student enrollment at the college, emigration of skilled personnel to greener pastures and the private sector, limited research capacity and poor infrastructure.

The branch chief for HIV Care/Treatment at the Centre for Disease Control (CDC)-Zimbabwe, Shirish Balachandra, described the MEPI–Nectar programme as a key intervention that has strengthened the knowledge base and expertise of local medical personnel.

“Through financial assistance, didactic teaching, and mentorship, the MEPI programme has supported relevant biomedical research development to strengthen Zimbabwe’s healthcare workforce since 2010,” he said.

The programme, which received a grant to the tune of $15 000 000, has over the years improved medical education, and strengthened research capacity at the college.

Meanwhile, the fifth annual MEPI symposium which will be held this week will provide a platform for medical scholars to share insights and success stories on applied innovations to address HIV and Aids.
Researchers and scholars representing medical schools from 13 sub-Saharan Africa countries will attend the symposium. Experts in medical education, research, capacity strengthening, as well as health systems strengthening, will share their experiences at the symposium.

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