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Medical professionals and policy makers from across Africa and the US met to review progress implementing the Medical Education Partnership Initiative (MEPI) last week.
“The medical education partnership represents one of the cornerstones in collaboration between the US Government and Africa and is example of tangible efforts to support country ownership,” said Donald E. Booth, Ambassador of the US to Ethiopia. Through MEPI, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is obtaining funding through the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) to provide USD 130 million over five years to improve African medical education through direct awards to 13 African institutions, including one in Ethiopia.
“We are excited about our global efforts to halt the HIV/AIDS epidemic. With a toolkit of proven interventions, the world can see we are making real progress in addressing the HIV pandemic especially on the African continent,” the ambassador stated.
The PEPFAR program is the largest but much of the progress can be directly linked to leadership at the country level. PEPFAR support allows over 4.5 million people to take antiretroviral treatment, and new infections have decreased in 22 Sub-Saharan countries.
Since 2010 MEPI has been revising curricula; improving teaching methods; technology and research.  They have also been working to recruit more rural and female students.
“Ethiopia is one of 57 countries which are experiencing a shortage of healthcare workers. Supporting Ethiopia’s efforts to strengthen the health workforce has been a top priority for us. In addition to MEPI the U.S. Government is also providing additional resources to improve pre-service for medical schools, as well as nursing and supporting staff like health officers, midwives, epidemiologists, administrators, laboratory workers,  technicians and health extension workers at the community level,” stated the ambassador.
The MEPI in Ethiopia is led by Addis Ababa University in partnership with Hawassa University, Haramaya University and the Defense Forces Medical College each partner is working closely with the Ethiopian Ministries of Health and Education to coordinate what they are doing with national priorities. The initiative is funded by PEPFAR and the U.S National Institute of Health (NIH).