DELIVERING ON THE PROMISE: MESAU CONTINUES TO INNOVATE FOR IMPROVED AND INCREASED PHYSICIAN PRODUCTION FOR UGANDA

Phew! What a year it has been for MESAU! For one listening in from the outside, the feeling is these fellows must be exhausted. But no! They are upbeat, raring to continue with what they know and have mastered. Innovating and working hard at it!

Close to 70 individuals from the five MESAU consortium member institutions spent a good three days in Gulu district, Northern Uganda, taking stock of the work done over the last one year at this yearÔÇÖs Site Visit; the third since the consortium was formed. Gulu University is one of the five institutions in the consortium and this was her turn to host her colleagues.

Hardly any space left for a cup of tea, the back-to-back presentations left many awed at how much has been done in just 12 months. And how much more can actually be done!
From distribution of computers to COBERS sites to strengthen training and access to online resources for the students and site tutors, reviewing curricula to competency-based and being able to implement the new curricula without major hiccups, building research capacity among students and faculty, providing valuable mentorship for students, providing financial and supervisory support to faculty pursuing PhD studies, and keeping track of all this.

Amidst all this, there is work being done to ensure that all stakeholders are kept in the loop; not only the MESAU consortium inner-circle, but also other stakeholders including district authorities, line ministries (Ministry of Education and Sports and Ministry of Health). This engagement has been very key in securing the necessary support especially for the sustainability of the MESAU achievements; the Ministry of Education Commissioner for Higher Education, Mr. Robert Odek Oceng put everybodyÔÇÖs worry about sustainability to rest. ÔÇ£Please do not worry about the end of MESAU and what might happen, MOES is fully committed to the process and its outcomesÔÇØ, he reassured everybody.

This engagement has solved one of the tight issues regarding the establishment of a medical school at Busitema University; the acquisition of land. When the Academic Registrar announced this development; the hand clap that accompanied his announcement was dizzying but also exhilarating. It was an achievement and celebration for the entire consortium and I dare say it is worth the effort everybody has put in. Please read our article on the Busitema experience for the amazing speed at which things have progressed, demonstrating how much can be achieved working as a consortium.

The big questions however, that should be answered by all these efforts is whether all the five institutions will be able to contribute to the production of 167,000 physicians by 2015, which is what Africa needs.

The Medical Education Partnership Initiative (MEPI), through which MESAU is funded, is a $130M US government investment to scale up the physician workforce in Africa by increasing capacity for locally-driven research, improving retention of graduates and increasing the quality and quantity of medical school graduates.

Every year a team from the US-based and Africa-based MEPI Coordinating Centres visit the consortium to take stock of what has been done; assess relevance in regard to MEPI goals, assess feasibility and sustainability of strategies and offer support for the achievement of goals.

Summarising this, Dr. Jimm Scott the Site Visit Team leader, note that ÔÇ£the world is watching MEPI to see what works and what can be learned from the strategies; they want to share in the knowledge cakeÔÇØ.