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Launching the Pan Africa Continuing Medical Education Network

We believe that if donor communities could channel their support through the means of Triangular Partnership (TP), much of Africa’s health concerns can be effectively addressed. The innumerable achievements by the diaspora validate TP as a model framework to foster support in developing countries. Triangular partners have the ability to avail their e-learning resources to developing countries through new innovative technological platforms, write Enawgaw Mehari and Kebede Begna.

People to People (P2P) is an Ethiopian diaspora health care organization which was established as a non-profit 501 (c)(3) entity in the Commonwealth of Kentucky in 1999. Since its inception, P2P has strived to facilitate the transfer of knowledge and technology to Africa with special emphasis on Ethiopia. It draws from its large membership of highly accomplished health care professionals who are committed to advancing clinical care, medical education and research to resource limited countries. The organization launched the novel concept of “Triangular Partnership” (TP) in 2012 when it hosted a symposium at the University of Kentucky for stakeholders from various universities in the United States and African nations, as well as diaspora health care professionals who have a strong umbilical cord with their countries of origin. Notable participants included the then Minister of Health for Ethiopia and senior leaders of the University of Kentucky and the National Institute of Health.

The concept of TP formally recognizes the educated African diaspora as the third leg of the developmental tools. For decades, the donor communities invested significant amount of money without bringing the desired impact on the capacity of local institutions. Shortage of skilled manpower, poor quality training and understaffed health care facilities are still hard realities. Concerns have been growing amongst the donor communities; the World Bank, World Health Organization (WHO), and group of eight (G8) countries due to the persistent deficiencies of conventional aid in addressing health care and medical education within developing countries. TP is intended to bring about a paradigm shift and serve as a catalyst to change the rules of engagement since the status quo has proved incapable of coping with the demand for better health care and medical education. This new partnership can be a role model to foster indigenous solutions that will help local ideas to be engineered into national and international markets and eventually may help to avoid dependence.

P2P has been instrumental in mobilizing and coordinating diaspora resources and linking western universities that are pools of medical and scientific knowledge to African medical institutions as beneficiaries of capacity building program. P2P success stories since its inception two decades ago include the development of a neurology training program supported mainly by Mayo Clinic and Ethiopian Diaspora neurologists; Emergency Medicine training program in AAU supported by University of Wisconsin, International American health alliance and the diaspora under the umbrella of P2P; and Graduate Social Work Program supported by P2P.  

On October 20, 2018, P2P will be hosting its 10th Annual Global Diaspora Conference in Health Care and Medical Education. It will also be launching the Pan Africa Medical Education Network with a four-hour continued medical education program accredited by various professional organizations and sponsored by the Mayo Clinic School of Continuous Professional Development. The faculty consists of world-renown experts from the African diaspora and topics are carefully selected for their relevance in the care setting of countries with limited resources. More details and the registration portal can be found at: https://ce.mayo.edu/special-topics-in-health-care/content/pan-african-continuing-medical-education-network-2018#group-tabs-node-course-default1. The conference will also be streaming live on Facebook and other social media. Universities and health institutions from various African Countries will be co-hosting this event along with P2P.

We believe that if donor communities could channel their support through the means of TP, much of the concerns can be effectively addressed. The innumerable achievements by the diaspora validates TP as a model framework to foster support in developing countries. Triangular partners have the ability to avail their e-learning resources to developing countries through new innovative technological platforms. These includes but not limited to e-library, e-medicine, telemedicine and medical exchange programs. By sharing the latest findings in research, TP can help foster a new generation of scientists, physicians and educators poised to make a change and close the knowledge gap.

Ed.’s Note: Enawgaw Mehari (MD) is founder and president of People to People (P2P), Senior Neurology Consultant, Kings Daughter Medical Center, Ashland, KY. Kebede Begna (MD) is vice president, International Medical Education, People to People, Assistant Professor of Medicine, Hematology – Oncology, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN. The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of The Reporter. The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of The Reporter.  

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Contributed by Enawgaw Mehari and Kebede Begna