For Immediate Release
Thursday, October 7, 2010
Contact:
Ann Puderbaugh HHS/Fogarty International Center, NIH, 301-496-2075

Judy Andrews , HHS/Health Resources and Services Administration, 301-443-4287

Maureen Thaivalappil, U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, 202-663-2708

HHS agencies partner with PEPFAR to transform African medical education

A dozen countries to benefit from $130 million investment to strengthen training

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is partnering with the U.S. Presidentís Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) with a plan to invest $130 million over five years to transform African medical education and dramatically increase the number of health care workers.

Through the Medical Education Partnership Initiative (MEPI), grants are being awarded directly to African institutions in a dozen countries, working in partnership with U.S. medical schools and universities. The initiative will form a network including about 30 regional partners, country health and education ministries, and more than 20 U.S. collaborators.

The program is designed to support PEPFARís goals to train and retain 140,000 new health care workers and improve the capacity of partner countries to deliver primary health care.

"We must dramatically transform African medical education to increase the number of qualified care providers available and develop the scientific expertise needed for research and innovation," said Ambassador Eric Goosby, U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator at the Department of State. "By engaging country health and education ministries, MEPI will strengthen national plans to improve medical instruction and bolster the overall health care delivery systems. As we transition PEPFAR-supported HIV efforts from an emergency response to a more sustainable effort, we need to develop the expertise necessary for evidence-based decision making on the local level. This expertise will empower countries to lead health programs and fulfill their responsibility for the health of their people."

Several components of the National Institutes of Health joined PEPFAR in funding the initiative, which will be administered by Fogarty International Center of the NIH and the HIV/AIDS Bureau of the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).

Eleven programmatic awards, largely funded by PEPFAR, will expand and enhance medical education and research training in the field of HIV/AIDS. Eight smaller non-HIV/AIDS awards, funded by the NIH Director's Common Fund, with additional support from several NIH institutes, will encourage the development of expertise in topics such as maternal and child health, cardiovascular diseases, cancer, mental health, surgery and emergency medicine. Over a five-year period, MEPI intends to provide up to $10 million for each programmatic award, up to $2.5 million for each linked project and up to $1.25 million for each pilot grant.

"Non-communicable diseases, such as maternal-child health issues, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and mental illness, represent the fastest growing causes of morbidity and mortality in sub-Saharan Africa," said NIH Director Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D. "We at NIH are delighted to join hands with our colleagues in PEPFAR to help build research and clinical capacity in these important areas of human health."

A coordinating center is being established to link the African sites and their U.S. partners, leverage shared resources and provide technical expertise. A Web-based platform will be developed to allow all partners to share data and outcomes. The platform will facilitate evaluation and provide a gateway to maximize the initiative's global impact. MEPI will enable participating institutions to strengthen their information technology infrastructure, support distance education and data sharing, and encourage the establishment of clinical registries to inform research and health care decision making on national levels. The coordinating center will also form an African leadership network to guide and advocate for the initiative.

"HRSAís decades of experience working in HIV/AIDS through the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program have highlighted the critical need for enhanced medical education and training to provide quality care to people affected by HIV/AIDS in rural and underserved communities. We are proud to collaborate with PEPFAR and NIH to advance medical education in Africa through this initiative, as well as continue supporting the on-going care and treatment and health system strengthening activities," said Mary K. Wakefield, Ph.D., R.N., HRSA administrator.

NIH funding is being provided by the Common Fund, Office of AIDS Research, Office of Research on Women's Health, National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, National Human Genome Research Institute, National Institute of Mental Health, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, and National Institute of Nursing Research.

A complete list of awards and collaborating partners is available at: www.fic.nih.gov/programs/training_grants/mepi/awards.htm

The U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) is the U.S. Government initiative to support partner nations around the world in responding to HIV/AIDS. It was launched in 2003, and is the largest commitment by any nation to combat a single disease internationally in history. PEPFAR is the cornerstone of the President's Global Health Initiative, which supports partner countries in improving health outcomes through strengthened health systems. For more information, please visit www.PEPFAR.gov, http://twitter.com/uspepfar, or www.facebook.com/PEPFAR.

The NIH Common Fund encourages collaboration and supports a series of exceptionally high impact, trans-NIH programs. These new programs are funded through the Common Fund, and managed by the NIH Office of the Director in partnership with the various NIH Institutes, Centers and Offices. Common Fund programs are designed to pursue major opportunities and gaps in biomedical research that no single NIH Institute could tackle alone, but that the agency as a whole can address to make the biggest impact possible on the progress of medical research. Additional information about the NIH Common Fund can be found at http://commonfund.nih.gov.

Fogarty, the international component of the NIH, addresses global health challenges through innovative and collaborative research and training programs and supports and advances the NIH mission through international partnerships. For more information, visit: www.fic.nih.gov.

The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) is the primary Federal agency for improving access to quality healthcare services for people who are uninsured, isolated, or medically vulnerable in the United States and its territories. HRSA's HIV/AIDS Bureau administers one of the largest federally funded domestic HIV/AIDS programs, providing primary care, medications and services to more than one-half million people every year. The HIV/AIDS Bureau also oversees the agencyís global projects, which build human and institutional capacity for scaling up HIV treatment and care through rapid roll-out of ARVs and clinical services, training and technical assistance, nursing leadership development, and promotion of the continuum of palliative care. For more information on HRSAís programs, visit www.hrsa.gov.

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation's medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit http://www.nih.gov.

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