Medical education: meeting the challenge of implementing primary health care in sub-saharan Africa

Document Type



General Surgery (East Africa); East African Institute


The ideas expressed in this discourse have been derived from the experience of planning for undergraduate medical education at the Aga Khan University (AKU) Medical College, Nairobi, which is a private university for the East African region; broad-based general education and the principles of liberal arts are incorporated in the curriculum.

Medical education in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) must be defined by its health needs and the health care services required. This article begins by describing the sociodemographic milieu that determines the disease pattern. Then it considers the compelling case for primary health care (PHC) in the context of community participation and multisector development as the driver of a medical education plan. An attempt is made to define the attributes of a doctor required to be effective in the region and to anticipate the inevitable challenges that lie ahead, including authorization and implementation of the plan as well as productive retention of graduates in the region, their professional development, and their contributions to the efficiency of health care.The potential roles of the AKU and the wider Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) in East Africa are discussed in this regard.

Publication (Name of Journal)

Infectious Disease Clinics of North America

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 License