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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.

Link to full article in Bulletin of the World Health Organization