Medical training has shown to be strategic for strengthening health systems, especially in those countries identified to have critical shortage of human resources for health. In the past few years, several studies have been conducted to characterize and identify major challenges faced by medical schools worldwide, and particularly in Africa. Nevertheless, none has previously addressed medical training issues in Portuguese Speaking African Countries (PSAC). The aim of this study was to establish baseline knowledge of the PSAC’s medical schools in terms of creation and ownership, programmes offered, applicants and registered students, barriers to increased intake of students, teaching workforce and available resources.
A quantitative, observational, multicentric, cross-sectional study of all medical schools active in 2012 in the PSAC. An adapted version of the questionnaires developed by Chen et al. (2012) was sent to all medical schools electronically. Data were analyzed using descriptive statistics.
A total of nine medical schools answered the questionnaire (three from Angola, two from Guinea Bissau and four from Mozambique). Since 2006 an effort has been made to increase the number of medical trainees. Besides the medical degree offered by all schools, some offered other undergraduate and postgraduate training programmes. The number of applicants to medical schools largely outnumbers the available vacancies in all countries but insufficient infrastructures and lack of teaching personnel are important constraints to increase vacancies. The teaching personnel are mainly trained abroad, employed part-time by the medical school and do not have a PhD qualification.
Governments in the PSAC have significantly invested in training to address medical shortages. However, medical schools are still struggling to give an adequate and effective response. Developing a local postgraduate training capacity for doctors might be an important strategy to help retain medical doctors in the home country and develop local faculty capacity.