UCSF and Muhimbili University Launch Initiative to Strengthen Tanzanian Health Workforce

UCSF has received a $7.5 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to partner with a Tanzanian health sciences university to help address Africa's urgent need for healthcare workers.

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Trained healthcare workers are essential to a strong and effective health system

Ferndale, WA (Vocus) January 6, 2009

The University of California, San Francisco has received a $7.5 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to address the shortage of healthcare workers in Tanzania. The two-year grant will support a strategic collaboration between UCSF Global Health Sciences and the Muhimbili University of Health Allied Sciences (MUHAS) in Tanzania to develop, implement and document strategies to enable MUHAS and other African institutions to meet their countries' health workforce needs.

UCSF and MUHAS will work together to develop a partnership and gather preliminary data to inform a long-term, sustainable partnership. UCSF Professor Sarah Macfarlane and MUHAS Professor Ephata Kaaya lead the collaboration.

Solving sub-Saharan Africa's healthcare worker shortage has long been a priority for governments, universities and international organizations, according to the collaborators. Tanzania's leaders recognize the need to educate and train more health care workers, they said. This project harnesses the resources of two major universities to approach the problem and aims to develop an institutional partnership model that can be replicated in other low-resource settings.

Faculty from the UCSF schools of medicine, nursing, pharmacy and dentistry will work with their MUHAS counterparts, as well as the MUHAS School of Public Health, to share curricula and educational technologies, and develop collaborative research programs.

"Through this collaboration, MUHAS will recruit and train faculty, strengthen the academic environment for education and research, and revise undergraduate and post-graduate curricula in order to increase its output of health professionals to serve the needs of the country," said MUHAS Vice Chancellor and Professor Kisali Pallangyo.

This grant will enable MUHAS, the only public university of health sciences in Tanzania, to plan and build capacity to meet Tanzania's long-term need for healthcare professionals to improve health outcomes, according to Professor Kaaya, director for continuing education and professional development at MUHAS.

The collaboration's activities will be rigorously evaluated for relevance and effectiveness, added Macfarlane, director of program planning and development at UCSF Global Health Sciences. She said the partnership itself will be subject to ongoing critical analysis and review.

"UCSF Global Health Sciences and MUHAS are ideal partners for this proof-of-principle collaboration for two overarching reasons," said Haile Debas, MD, executive director of UCSF Global Health Sciences. "There is remarkable institutional symmetry in that both are public health sciences institutions that train physicians, nurses, pharmacists, dentists and allied health workers. In addition, the two universities have worked together for four years and have achieved a high level of professional trust and respect."

"Trained healthcare workers are essential to a strong and effective health system," said Kathy Cahill, senior program officer for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. "In addition to saving lives in Tanzania, the project could serve as an effective model for other countries."

UCSF is a leading university dedicated to promoting health worldwide through advanced biomedical research, graduate-level education in the life sciences and health professions, and excellence in patient care. For further information, please visit http://www.ucsf.edu.

Contact:
Kristen Bole
(415) 476-2557
Web: http://www.ucsf.edu

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