Mentorship needed to build Africa's pool of health researchers

"Mentorship and capacity development initiatives will help Africa bridge its leadership gap in health policy and systems research. It is only through capacity development and mentorship initiatives that Africa can build a mass of researchers with the leadership skills that respond to its health challenges."

This is the view of Dr Nonhlanhla Nxumalo, CHP's Deputy Director, who was invited to write an opinion piece for Research Professional Africa following the 3rd Global Symposium on Health System Research held in Cape Town from 30 September - 3 October 2014.

In the article, she describes the importance of the multi-disciplinary field of health policy and systems research for building Africa's research capacity, policy making and evaluation of health policies. She highlights some of the challenges facing the continent, particularly in the available pathways for entering the profession, and the dilemma facing senior researchers who are managing institutions and generating funds, while needing to find time to offer sustained mentorship to emerging researchers.

She recommends that more systematic mechanisms for mentorship are needed to create opportunities for leadership development.

"There is a need, for instance, to establish a system of shared leadership, where an emerging researcher is matched with a senior research to create opportunities to share leadership roles within a project or activity. Allowing emerging researchers to participate in projects led by senior researchers also creates opportunities for the young researchers to learn more from the leaders in the field through observation and modelling," she wrote.

The article was published on 3 November 2014.Click here to read the full article.

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