Building Workforce Capacity Abroad While Strengthening Global Health Programs at Home: Participation of Seven Harvard-Affiliated Institutions in a Health Professional Training Initiative in Rwanda
A consortium of 22 U.S. academic institutions is currently participating in the Rwanda Human Resources for Health Program (HRH Program). Led by the Rwandan Ministry of Health and funded by both the U.S. Government and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, the primary goal of this seven-year initiative is to help Rwanda train the number of health professionals necessary to reach the country’s health workforce targets. Since 2012, the participating U.S. academic institutions have deployed faculty from a variety of health-related disciplines and clinical specialties to Rwanda. In this Article, the authors describe how U.S. academic institutions (focusing on the seven Harvard-affiliated institutions participating in the HRH Program—Harvard Medical School, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard School of Dental Medicine, Boston Children’s Hospital, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Massachusetts General Hospital, and Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary) have also benefited: (1) by providing opportunities to their faculty and trainees to engage in global health activities; (2) by establishing long-term, academic partnerships and collaborations with Rwandan academic institutions; and (3) by building the administrative and mentorship capacity to support global health initiatives beyond the HRH Program. In doing this, the authors describe the seven Harvard-affiliated institutions’ contributions to the HRH Program, summarize the benefits accrued by these institutions as a result of their participation in the program, describe the challenges they encountered in implementing the program, and outline potential solutions to these challenges that may inform similar future health professional training initiatives.