Financing medical training in Africa

MeduProf-S is a healthcare company that provides professional medical training services in Africa. But many of the hospitals and medical clinics interested in MeduProf-S and its services are underfunded and cannot pay for the much-needed high-quality training. MeduProf-S CEO Willem van Prooijen set up the Health Workforce Foundation to bridge this gap.

The International Finance Corporation calculated that until 2020 Africa needs an additional 90,000 physicians, about 500,000 nurses and 300,000 community health workers over and above the numbers that will graduate from existing medical colleges and training institutions. MeduProf-S is a company that intends to bridge this gap at least in part. It supports medical facilities in Africa by training existing staff with training sessions ranging “from cleaner to management.” With a fulltime staff of twelve and an international network of over 200 health experts, MeduProf-S offers advice, training and consultancy in the fields of nursing, radiology, ultrasound, medical laboratory, physiotherapy, audiology and speech and language therapy.

Self-financing training

However, a significant share of medical facilities on the continent does not have the funds to purchase expensive medical training from MeduProf-S. Willem: “MeduProf-S delivers education and training at a high quality level, in which numerous African parties expressed interest. For example, we are setting up a school for hospital maintenance with a medical institute in Kumba, Cameroon. The institute is in the start-up phase, is relatively small and has little experience in fundraising. The management asked us to write the new school’s curriculum and train professionals and lecturers, but also finance the project. In our view clients should finance their own projects but we also see that many of the players interested in our services simply can’t. Therefore we have set up the Health Workforce Foundation. Future projects funded by the foundation will have to contribute at least 50 per cent of their own budget.”

Translating theory into practical skills

According to Willem, “Nursing is underappreciated in Africa. Nurses do retain knowledge from their own education, but often lack the capacity to translate knowledge into everyday practice, deteriorating their social position. Our training model activates nurses’ knowledge and by doing so, reclaims their self-respect. 10 per cent of the sessions consist of lectures, which update participants’ existing knowledge base. 40 per cent is made up of assignments, leaving half the programme spent on exercises, which help translate theory into practical skills. Nurses that undergo our training programmes show drastically improved results and leave patients grateful of their treatment.”

Up to speed within a year

Willem expects the Health Workforce Foundation, which was founded in March 2015, will be fully up to speed within a year. “We are currently talking to parties that expressed interest in donating. A few years down the road we aim to finance half of MeduProf-S commercially, with the other half coming through the foundation. Too often we have had to decline requests and hopes are the foundation will change this for good!”

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