The African Medical and Research Foundation (AMREF) and the United States International University (USIU) signed an agreement to launch a Global Executive Master of Business Administration (GEMBA) in Health Leadership Management at AMREF’s International Training Centre and Headquarters. The MOU was signed by the Director General of AMREF, Dr Teguest Guerma, and the Vice Chancellor of USIU, Prof Freida Brown, at the AMREF Headquarters and International Training Centre in Nairobi.
The Executive MBA seeks to equip health professionals with skills to effectively manage and lead health systems in a dynamic environment. While African universities offer MBAs for other professionals, this programme is one of a kind in Africa and will provide training that most leaders in the health sector require but cannot access.
The GEMBA curriculum will cover financial management, human resource management, procurement management, management of health institutions in general and analysis of impact and changes in health care in particular. Development of strategic thinking will enable health professionals to manage complex organisational scenarios by equipping them with good governance skills, accountability and an in-depth understanding of health systems management.
Each class will have 30 students, 14 from AMREF. The other 16 slots are open to interested organisations and individuals who want to develop in the area of health leadership and management. At the end of the one-year course, the health professionals will be equipped with the skills to efficiently manage resources for delivery of effective health services, particularly in poor and underprivileged communities in Africa. They will be able to address many of the problems facing health institutions such as wastage of resources and lack of accountability.
Dr Guerma noted that while many health professionals have excellent medical skills, they find that their medical knowledge is not sufficient when they are put in positions of leadership.
“There is a growing realisation that there is a gap in the training of health workers because management and leadership are not integrated into the curriculum in medical colleges. I hope that this Global Executive MBA will create an entry point for strengthening of medical curricula by including leadership and management training,” she said.
Prof Brown stressed the importance of institutions of higher learning providing quality education that promotes innovation and encourages social responsibility by providing leadership that responds to issues of national and global concern.
She added that, if professionals are able to go through training programmes to help with issues like budgeting and finance, performance evaluation and other critical areas of management such as assessing future growth, they will be able to help their institutions to fulfill their vision and mission.
A leader in training for Health Systems Strengthening in Africa, AMREF has over the last four years been running a two-year in-house Leadership Development Programme (LDP) to strengthen the capacity of its staff. The partnership will enable more leaders across the continent to benefit from AMREF’s experience and expertise in training health professionals, and USIU’s renowned leadership and management training expertise in Africa.
Dr Meshack Ndirangu is a graduate of the first LDP class, which ran from 2008-2011. Having since been promoted to Deputy Country Director for AMREF Kenya, Ndirangu has reaped great benefits from the skills gained from the course.
“I have continued to apply what I learnt from the LDP in my work, and together with the Country Director and our Senior Management Team, we have been able to build a high-performing team and strong systems,” he said. “I am very excited that this course is now being turned into a Global Executive MBA because it will add a lot of value to the work of health programme managers and to the development process.”
Dr Peter Ngatia, AMREF’s Director of Capacity Building, emphasised the importance of leadership and management skills for development. “Organisations are dependent on good management in order to be efficient and effective. Health systems in Africa can cater for the disadvantaged if those managing them have the skills to tap into existing resources and use them optimally,” he said.