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African and UK institutions team up to train next generation of global health leaders

New doctoral training programme for healthcare professionals aims to improve health in Africa and address inequities in global health research
MSc students working together in the library at LSHTM

The London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) and partners in the UK and Africa have been awarded more than £11.8m for a PhD fellowship programme to train a new generation of world-class researchers focused on improving health and wellbeing in Africa.

Funded by Wellcome, the programme will support 25 health care professionals to study for PhDs on global health in Africa in partnership with the MRC Unit The Gambia at LSHTM, the MRC/UVRI & LSHTM Uganda Research Unit and eight other institutions in the UK and Africa. These include the Biomedical Research and Training Institute and the Zvitambo Institute for Maternal and Child Health Research, both in Zimbabwe; the Centre for Innovative Drug Development and Therapeutic Trials (CDT-Africa) at Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia; Zambart at the University of Zambia; Queen Mary University of London; St George’s, University of London; King’s College London; and Brighton and Sussex Medical School.

Fellowships will be open to UK-registered and practising health care professionals, with the programme team particularly keen to welcome nurses, midwives and allied health care professionals. In addition, the UK partner institutions have committed to offering 25 matched fellowships to African fellows working across the six African partner institutions, creating a unique blended cohort of 50 doctoral fellows recruited over five years. 

The Wellcome PhD Programme for Health Professionals in Global Health Research in Africa will have a strong focus on strengthening EDI (equality, diversity and inclusion) and improving research culture. Research areas will include those of public health importance in Africa such as infectious diseases, sexual and reproductive health, maternal, child and adolescent health, non-communicable diseases and mental health, and interdisciplinary research projects will be encouraged.

The programme will create a Global Health Digital Academy to equip fellows with the skills and knowledge they need to become global health leaders. Structured as modules, the Academy will  enable a rolling programme of researcher development and delivered as part of a blended approach of online and in-person activities. It is designed to promote an equitable, networked community of fellows who benefit from peer support, a transcultural experience, and a diverse learning and research environment.

Professor Rashida Ferrand, director of the doctoral programme, said: “Our vision is for a transformative programme that nurtures a new generation of world-class researchers to address global health challenges.

“We want our fellows to be a diverse community including nurses, midwives and allied health professionals as well as doctors with a range of different skills and interests who can share their knowledge and experiences with everyone involved.

“Equity is a core value of this programme and fellows will be at the heart of this shift. We will provide them with the mentorship, networks and skills to reshape and decolonise the global health research landscape so that it is more equitable, inclusive, holistic and impactful, and leaves no one behind.”

Professor Abebaw Fekadu, Head of CDT-Africa at Addis Ababa University, said: “Shortage of a skilled workforce is a major development threat for Africa. The advanced training in this programme will contribute meaningfully to addressing this threat.

“An important aspect of the programme is the cross-country network of partnerships, which will enable fellows, faculty and institutions to work together and learn from each other. This relationship will nurture sustainable partnership and impactful research opportunities.

“We are pleased to be part of this important academic partnership and our commitment is for a longer term, productive, empowering and mutually beneficial engagement.” 

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