Table 2

Exemplar policy options and actions

Policy goalExamples of policy options and actions
Strengthen health workforce planning processes.
  • Develop costed national health workforce plans that include clear goals to build and retain an optimal mix of health workforce cadres.

  • Update existing health workforce plans to reflect changing realities due to COVID-19 and other external shocks.

  • Increase interministerial coordination for health workforce planning and development. For example, improve coordination between the ministry of education (trainers of the health workforce), the ministry of health (largest employers of health workforce) and the ministry of finance (provider of funding for health workforce training).

Protect and increase funding for medical education and research.
  • Ensure there is a line item for medical education and research in government budgets. If line-item already exists, ensure that policy makers do not reallocate funds away from medical education and research in response to COVID-19 challenges.

  • Create government-funded peer-reviewed research grants to encourage medical school faculty compete for sustainable research funds.

  • Develop incentives to increase private investments in research conducted by medical school faculty, such as, public-private partnerships, cost-share grants, university endowments.

  • Increase access to scholarships, financial aid, and loans for students and health workers in training.

  • Increase official development assistance for medical education and research. Continental stakeholders such as the African Development Bank can play a leading role to complement resources from traditional donors.

Build infrastructure needed to support innovations in medical education and research.
  • Expand access to reliable and affordable broadband internet for medical schools, their faculty, and their students.

  • Increase access to and use of digital libraries by faculty, students and other staff of medical schools.

  • Promote widespread use of secure, contextually appropriate, medical information systems for patient care, payments and reporting.

  • Invest in the expansion of access to clinical simulation laboratories for medical school instruction.

  • Foster development of institutional partnerships as a backbone infrastructure for collaboration and knowledge sharing.

Expand e-learning and telehealth services.
  • Update teaching curricula to include e-learning modules.

  • Support faculty members to create high-quality e-learning course modules appropriate for the country context.

  • Remove barriers that prevent students from getting academic credit for e-learning offerings from other institutions.

  • Allow healthcare providers receive payments/remuneration for telehealth services performed.

Strengthen capacity building initiatives that improve medical education and medical research.
  • Provide long-term, sustainable funding for the African Forum for Research and Education in Health (AFREhealth).

  • Use domestic resources to build on the foundations laid by joint initiatives such as MEPI, NEPI, HEPI.

  • Reactivate the African Medical Schools Association to foster institutional exchange of best practices for medical education development. Similar efforts should be developed for nursing and other allied health professions

Prioritise medical education and research in policy-making discussions across the continent.
  • Create visibility on the role of medical education in ensuring that Africa meets its health-related goals in the AU Agenda 2063.

  • Introduce medical education in Africa as a top agenda in high-level policy meetings such as the Africa Leadership Meeting, African Union general assembly or regional meetings.

  • Advocate for high-level policy-making institutions on the continent to issue joint statements on need for medical education capacity building in Africa. Institutions such as the United Nations Economic Cooperation for Africa, the Africa Academy of Sciences, Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Africa Development Bank can play pivotal roles.

  • Encourage convening of a special body/task force to brainstorm health workforce issues on the continent

  • HEPI, Health-Professional Education Partnership Initiative; MEPI, Medical Education Partnership Initiative; NEPI, Nursing Education Partners Initiative.