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Centre for Medical Education supports work to increase the number of doctors in Ethiopia

Monday 25 March 2013

Academics from the Centre of Medical Education at BL have been delivering medical education training in Ethiopia as part of the country’s drive to increase the number of doctors.

The work is part of a collaboration between Queen Mary and the new Aksum University Medical School in Ethiopia, which was set up thanks to a start-up grant from The Tropical Health and Education Trust (THET)*.

Ethiopia has a severe shortage of doctors, particularly in rural areas. While in the UK there is approximately one doctor to every 400 patients, the figure for Ethiopia is one to 36,000.

Around 43 per cent of doctors are based in the capital, Addis Ababa, yet only five per cent of the population lives there.

To try and improve the situation, Ethiopia’s Federal Ministries of Health and Education launched 13 new medical schools last year. The new schools are delivering a curriculum designed to train doctors fast and with a focus on the healthcare needs of rural people, living in poverty.

As part of the partnership between Queen Mary and Aksum, two medical academics from Queen Mary recently spent a week in Aksum delivering training in problem-based learning (PBL). PBL is a hands-on method of education that involves students learning about a subject by being given real-life scenarios and problems to solve.

Dr Jon Fuller and Dr Vivien Cook, from the Centre for Medical Education, delivered their training to 57 doctors from 11 of the 13 new medical schools around the country.

Dr Cook said: “We found a real commitment to embracing and sharing best educational practice across the new medical schools”.

Dr Fuller said: “We met a fantastic and keen group of medical teachers. It’s important that we do not try to impose our way of doing things but give them the tools to develop their own methods of teaching.”

The team is looking at further ways to develop its work with Aksum University. Future plans could include students from the university mentoring their counterparts in Ethiopia, student electives and research opportunities.  

Dr Tewodros Haile, Dean of College and Health Sciences, Aksum University, said: “The PBL training delivered by the Barts and The London team will enable our faculties to conduct PBL confidently. Such assistance in human resource strengthening is vital to us and the partnership can also benefit staff from Barts and The London by providing opportunities to be engaged in research and clinical practice in the tropical illness in our setup.”     

*The start-up grant from The Tropical Health and Education Trust (THET) was awarded to Queen Mary’s Global Health, Policy and Innovation Unit.

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