In September 2023, the Thanzi Programme launched the Thanzi Programme Health Economics Distance Learning MSc Studentships: a new funded scheme designed to support 12 talented African students in completing a three-year MSc distance learning programme specialising in economics and related disciplines.
Thanzi and Capability Strengthening
The initiative was born out of the Thanzi Programme Partners Workshop: Supporting the Realisation of the ALM Declaration (March 2023), which highlighted a number of key ambitions for capability strengthening, to strengthen postgraduate health economics training opportunities for students in the East, Central, Southern and West Africa regions. These activities are currently in demand across the continent, as few African universities offer health economics higher education programmes (some are in the process of establishing programmes for launch in the coming 1-3 years, including at Thanzi Programme partners at Kamuzu University of Health Sciences and Makerere School of Public Health). Supporting access to international health economics training programmes is, therefore, a priority for national public universities/ medical schools and Ministries of Health alike, to ensure that African students have the opportunity to pursue an MSc and further their career in health financing, planning, delivery or administration.
Funded MSc-Level Studentships
In order to meet this aim, the University of York, East Central and Southern Africa Health Community and Global Institute for Disease Elimination committed to establishing the Thanzi Programme Health Economics Distance Learning MSc Studentships (funded through the Thanzi Labwino (Better Health) project). The Studentships offer 12 funded places for African candidates to complete the Health Economics Distance Learning programme (HEDL) offered by the University of York’s Department for Economics & Related Studies. The main advantage of this course is that it can be completed remotely – from anywhere in the world – and it is designed to be completed on a part-time basis; enabling students to gain their MSc qualification without interrupting their career.
The announcement of the launch of the Studentships received an overwhelming response, with over 250 applications from candidates based across 20 African nations. In September 2023, places for cohort 1 were awarded to eight candidates based in eSwatini, The Gambia, Ghana, Malawi, Nigeria, Uganda, Zimbabwe and also from El Salvador, who are interested to further their careers in a range of health-related disciplines and fields – including within Planning Departments at Ministries of Health, and health related departments at national public universities.
“My goal is to become an independent health economics global health researcher and a health economics lecturer. To successfully achieve this goal and become an independent health economic scientist, I needed to complement my epidemiology and clinical research skills with health economic evaluation methodologies and skills. These key competencies will enable me to generate health economics findings that rapidly translate to policy and accelerate delivery of evidence-based interventions in sub-Saharan Africa and mentor the next generation of health economists in Africa.” Stephen Okoboi, MPH PhD (Infectious Diseases Institute, Makerere University, Uganda), Thanzi Studentship recipient
The initiative has revealed the demand for postgraduate learning and capability strengthening in health economics and related disciplines, to support and enhance career development for researchers and policy-makers across the region. Looking to the future, Thanzi partners are committed to running the scheme again in 2024 to support a second cohort of Thanzi Studentships. It is also hoped that further funding can be sourced to extend the scheme beyond these two cohorts, and continue to facilitate closer working relationships between researchers and policy makers.
“We’re really delighted to welcome these excellent students onto our Health Economics by Distance Learning programmes. It’s great timing after recent changes that we’ve made aimed at improving the relevance of the courses towards policy and global health. This marks an important step towards increased collaboration and mutual learning.” Dr James Lomas (Department of Economics, University of York) Health Economics by Distance Learning (HEDL) Director
“Researchers want their research to make a positive difference in the world. This can be achieved by affecting ‘decisions’ of some kind and in healthcare the decisions that are particularly important are those of health policymakers, for instance working in ministries of health. Health policymakers, for their part, try to do the best with the limited evidence they have available to them. They need relevant research to guide their decisions. But these two communities – researchers and policymakers – often work in isolation. Thanzi Labwino aims to bring them together, generating and using evidence on healthcare resource allocation and on neglected tropical diseases especially. If we succeed, better and more suitable healthcare will be provided, leading to reductions in disease burdens and improvements in population health.” Professor Paul Revill (Centre for Health Economics, University of York), Director of the Thanzi Programme and Principal Investigator for Thanzi Labwino
Further news and updates about future Thanzi Studentships opportunities will be shared via the Global Health Economics Hub (an open access learning platform which offers training in the theory and methods of health economics for use by policy-makers and academics across the continent). Should you like to receive more information about how you can support the continuation of this programme, or would like more information about the Thanzi Programme and Studentships, please contact email@example.com.
By: Stephanie Richards | October 2023