Partnership Will Help Train Health Professionals

Tanzanian health worker
A health care worker in Tanzania vaccinates a child. A new partnership aims to train more health professionals in developing countries.

Washington,
March 13, 2012

Developing countries will have more trained doctors, nurses and other health professionals, thanks to a new partnership.

The Peace Corps, the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and the Global Health Service Corps are launching an innovative public-private partnership to place nurses, physicians and other health professionals as adjunct faculty in medical and nursing schools overseas.

The partnership, known as the Global Health Service Partnership (GHSP), will address health professional shortages by investing in capacity and building support for existing medical and nursing education programs in less developed countries. The new program is expected to begin in Tanzania, Malawi and Uganda in July 2013. Participants will serve in the Peace Corps Response program for one-year assignments.

“Through this exciting new partnership, the Peace Corps will supply medical and nursing professionals to help developing countries strengthen their public health systems,” said Peace Corps Director Aaron S. Williams. “By building on the Peace Corps’ model of grass-roots assistance, as well as our existing infrastructure in developing countries, we will work with medical and nursing schools to build capacity, bring critical prevention and health care to remote communities, and provide additional service opportunities for Americans.”

“The Global Health Service Partnership is an innovative initiative to address the need for health care professionals in countries hard-hit by HIV/AIDS,” said U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Eric Goosby. “Country ownership — with partner countries leading the way in the fight against AIDS — depends on countries having strong health systems, and that in turn depends on a strong health workforce. PEPFAR is proud to partner with Peace Corps in supporting countries’ efforts to save the lives of their own people.”

“The shortage of health professionals is profound in many areas of the world, and sadly worst where the global burden of disease is highest,” said Global Health Service Corps Executive Director Dr. Vanessa Bradford Kerry. “These shortages limit the ability of developing countries to deliver even basic health care, let alone respond to new, unforeseen epidemics. There is great interest among U.S. health professionals who have both the commitment and expertise to serve abroad and help make a difference. The GHSP helps harness this dedication by strengthening existing nursing and medical education programs to create a force-multiplier effect.”

GHSP volunteers will primarily function as medical or nursing educators, working alongside local faculty counterparts to teach and transfer clinical skills. Volunteers will also participate in medical care appropriate to effective education and mentorship.

The Global Health Service Corps will make significant contributions to the program by raising awareness of GHSP among qualified professionals, and by providing technical support to the program, its volunteers and the teaching institutions overseas. It will help evaluate the effectiveness of the partnership deployments, responding to meet the particular needs of each clinical site.

Consulting staff include senior global health leaders who are experienced in health care delivery, medical education and patient-care quality in resource-poor settings. It will also, independently of the Peace Corps, raise funds from the private sector to finance loan repayment stipends for eligible volunteers.

In January, Peace Corps announced the expansion of the Peace Corps Response program, allowing experienced professionals to serve in short-term, high-impact Peace Corps assignments in dozens of countries around the world. The GHSP partnership is part of this Peace Corps expansion.

The application process for the GHSP volunteers is expected to begin in September 2012 through the Peace Corps Response online application.