Interprofessional Education and Practice in Sub-Saharan Africa

By | 19th July 2019

This year the journal was privileged to work together with members of the Africa Interprofessional Education Network (AfrIPEN) to deliver a themed issue collecting work from the region. This is a first for the journal, building on the legacy and current motivations of many involved with the journal, bringing and publishing research from regions that can often be ignored in the space of medical education and science, as a whole.

The issue itself touches on many issues that are not necessarily interprofessional, but those that are seen globally, highlighting that the continent of Africa has similar issues when it comes to education and policy and therefore the approach in the region should not necessarily be different when it comes to promoting collaboration, interprofessional education and improved opportunities for research and science. Wow, that was a long sentence, but one I think is of importance! Let us not forget the number of research positions, PhD opportunities and other postgraduate trainings/courses are miniscule on the continent compared to North America and Europe. Therefore any opportunity to promote research and education, such as this issue, should be celebrated.

All the reports are worth reading, but I was particularly interested in the work that came from the University of Maiduguri, Nigeria. The authors looked at attitudes toward interprofessional education within a government based university, where IPE had not been implemented.

It was interesting to see, that as students got older, their attitudes changed to a more positive approach toward IPE. Attitude change , something I think we all do in life, as we get old and wrinkly! A cohort of dental, medical, medical laboratory science, nursing, physiotherapy, and radiography students were analysed. Medical students were the more positive compared to dental students and even though I have found my dentist to be cranky at times, the authors postulate that the reason for this is the fact that none of the curricula of the six programs that were represented in the study contained courses on IPE, which may indicate that the main factor that contributed to better attitude was more years of study.

Overall, an interesting piece of work and one that forms a steppingstone for introducing IPE in a state based university in Nigeria. When one looks at research publications as a whole, good and bad, and trust me there are plenty of ones out there, the USA published 570,104 citable documents with 0.77 citations per document in 2018. Nigeria published 8346 citable documents with 0.49 citations per document. This is a fraction compared to the US and others, however, this piece of work and the themed issue that it is within, show that by actively collaborating with researchers and research networks, solid work that can impact science can be published from anywhere in the world.