University of Cape Town Joins New Partnership to Enhance Primary Healthcare Across Africa


The Africa Higher Education Health Collaborative (AHEHC), a pioneering initiative aimed at strengthening primary healthcare in Africa, has gained the participation of the University of Cape Town (UCT) among its nine partners. This collaborative effort seeks to empower the continent’s health sector through transformative education and innovation, building upon the foundation laid by the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program since 2012.

Africa, home to 16% of the world’s population, faces a significant shortage of skilled health workers, with only 2.2 skilled health workers per 1,000 population, one-third of the global average. By 2030, the projected shortage is around six million skilled health workers. The health sector in Africa contributes only about 5% to the continent’s gross domestic product (GDP), compared to the global average of 10%, highlighting the urgent need for targeted interventions to unlock the sector’s untapped economic potential.

The AHEHC brings together collaborative partners from universities within and beyond Africa to collectively address primary healthcare challenges. This collaborative effort and associated funding present significant opportunities to make a lasting impact on the health of young people through education and training while concurrently fortifying primary healthcare systems across three learning sites.

The AHEHC focuses on three key pillars of work to achieve its objectives:

Health Employment: Enhancing institutional capacity across Africa to train skilled workers for primary healthcare, meeting the growing demand and contributing to the expansion of systems that employ and retain this primary care workforce.

Health Entrepreneurship: Optimizing entrepreneurial ecosystems within African universities, the AHEHC will support the launch and scaling of health start-ups, generating employment and driving innovative solutions to address healthcare challenges.

Health Ecosystems: Collaborating to engage with broader health sector actors and enabling African students to acquire advanced skills across diverse disciplines crucial for sustainable and transformative growth in the health sector.

Recognizing that unlocking the full potential of the health sector requires addressing barriers hindering progress, particularly in primary healthcare, the AHEHC identifies challenges such as poor human resources capacity, limited access to health services, weak incentive structures, unaffordability of care, and fragmented health systems.

The collaborative envisions a transformative impact on primary healthcare across Africa through strategic interventions, including the training of 30,000 skilled health practitioners and community health workers. The goal is to deliver innovative and high-quality primary healthcare services, fostering overall community wellness and contributing to economic transformation.

Additionally, the AHEHC aims to nurture over 10,000 innovative and sustainable health ventures, creating a vibrant network of health entrepreneurial ecosystems. Working collaboratively with a shared vision, the AHEHC seeks to build a robust network of partners, sharing best practices and lessons to create healthier and more prosperous communities.