University of Toronto and Mastercard Foundation Launch Decade-Long Initiative to Strengthen Primary Healthcare Workforce Across Africa

In a groundbreaking partnership aimed at bolstering primary healthcare workforce education, entrepreneurship, and innovation across the African continent, the University of Toronto (U of T), the Mastercard Foundation, and a consortium of leading African universities have unveiled the Africa Higher Education Health Collaborative (AHEHC). This ambitious initiative, spanning a decade, brings together esteemed institutions such as Addis Ababa University, the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences, and the University of Cape Town.

Initiated in 2022, AHEHC seeks to tackle the critical shortage of healthcare professionals in Africa, where the average ratio stands at only 1.55 doctors, nurses, and midwives per 1,000 people, significantly below the World Health Organization's recommended ratio. The collaborative effort aims to reshape the healthcare landscape by empowering young individuals with the skills necessary for impactful work in health and wellness.

During a pivotal meeting held in Cape Town in 2023, U of T leaders, including Joseph Wong and Trevor Young, reiterated the collaborative's commitment to co-creating solutions tailored to local priorities. This approach, guided by African-led solutions, lays the groundwork for meaningful change.

U of T's participation aligns with its broader Africa strategy outlined in the International Strategic Plan 2022-2027. The university aims to leverage Africa's vast talent pool while addressing challenges within primary healthcare systems. Penina Lam, U of T’s senior director of international relations, is spearheading the implementation of AHEHC, initially focusing on Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Rwanda, and South Africa.

AHEHC's three pillars—health employment, health entrepreneurship, and health ecosystems—will drive workforce development, support health innovation businesses, and foster partnerships across sectors. The Mastercard Foundation's Health Strategy, aligned with AHEHC, aims to create three million jobs in primary care, with a particular focus on women and young people.

Building on the success of the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program, AHEHC will welcome a new cohort of graduate students from Sub-Saharan Africa to U of T over ten years. U of T's extensive relationships in Africa, such as the Toronto Addis Ababa Academic Collaboration, position it as a key player in this transformative initiative, reflecting the university's unwavering commitment to global equity and justice.


Article by Nyokabi Wanjiku