University awarded medical education grant for work in Africa

The GW Medical Center was awarded a $12.5 million grant last week, which is intended to help the University improve medical education in sub-Saharan Africa.

The grant is part of a five-year, $130 million initiative by the National Institutes of Health to increase the number of health care workers in Africa.

Fitzhugh Mullan, a professor in the School of Public Health and Health Services, said GW was given the grant because of its connection with the sub-Saharan African Medical Schools Study, an organization funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

“GW is known as experts in African medical education because we’ve spent time studying African medical schools and have written about it,” Mullan said. “We were chosen for our reputation in the area.”

Mullan added that the NIH’s effort is part of President Barack Obama’s initiative to broaden aid to the affected area.

“Its intent is the development of more physicians for Africa who will be equipped to deal with not only clinical medicine but community health and strengthening of [the] health system in each country,” Mullan said.

With the major grant, the University will serve as the “coordinating center” for the federal program, helping to evaluate, give technical assistance and help facilitate communications on an electronic platform. Administrators will work with the 13 schools that were given federal aid in 12 different African countries, including South Africa, Nigeria, Uganda and Tanzania.

The grant lasts five years and the money will be used to support the faculty and staff involved with doing the work, communication capability and travel.

Mullan said that while it is an honor for the University to be chosen for the grant, the long-term developments of the effort are the most important goals.

“GW hopes this will help improve medical education and research in Africa,” Mullan said.

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