Postgraduate programmes supported by international collaborations but focused on local priorities can rapidly increase the number of high-quality health scientists in Africa, say Wilson Savino and colleagues.
A lack of specialised human resources is a major problem for health systems in developing countries, say the authors. Students are typically sent abroad for postgraduate training — an expensive strategy that exacerbates the 'brain drain'.
Africa could learn from Brazil, where a growth in postgraduate programmes over the past 25 years has been paralleled by an increase in scientific publications and patents.
A Brazilian institution, the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation, is now helping the Mozambican National Institute of Health run a Master's degree in health sciences — tailored to Mozambican health priorities. This programme alone could produce 20 new PhD students within a decade, say the authors.
And young scientists, in public health or biomedical research, can spark overall improvements in the wider health system.