In countries with severe health workforce shortages, accurate health workforce information is needed to achieve health goals, including for HIV and AIDS, family planning, and maternal and child health. The PEPFAR Medical Education Partnership Initiative (MEPI) supports medical schools in African countries to increase the capacity and quality of medical education, improve graduate retention, and promote regionally relevant research.
The MEPI Connect graduate tracking software is helping African medical schools to remain connected with their graduates. Tracking allows institutions to assess the effectiveness of strategies to retain graduates at posts in underserved areas.
The concept of the “educational home” for 21st century health professionals highlights the emerging and essential need for educational institutions to stay connected with their graduates. This is particularly important where there are severe health workforce shortages. A well-trained, diverse health workforce is vital to meet the Millennium Development Goals, achieve an AIDS-Free Generation, support family planning goals, and end preventable child and maternal deaths.
The PEPFAR Medical Education Partnership Initiative (MEPI) is a US government initiative supporting 13 medical schools in 12 African countries to increase the capacity & quality of medical education, improve retention of graduates, and promote regionally relevant & locally-led research. Given high graduate outmigration rates, MEPI-funded schools are investing heavily in strategies to retain graduates where they are most needed. Enabling schools with a platform to connect with alumni allows them to gauge the strategies’ effectiveness. In collaboration with the MEPI Physician Tracking Technical Working Group (TWG), the USAID-funded CapacityPlus project, and the MEPI Coordinating Center support nine country-led initiatives to implement graduate tracking at 18 medical education institutions.
In 2013, a participatory approach involving medical professional councils and the MEPI TWG identified the functionality and attributes needed to meet graduate tracking objectives while ensuring interoperability with the open source iHRIS software systems used by professional councils and ministries of health. Schools can use and customize the resulting open source software system for free.
In 2014, the MEPI Connect graduate tracking software was reviewed, tested, and finalized for customization by participating schools. Several MEPI institutions are now customizing, installing, and deploying the software: