Taking down ‘the Ivory Tower’: leveraging academia for better health outcomes in Uganda
Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) is home to less than ten percent of the world’s population but bears nearly a quarter of the world’s disease burden. At the same time, the region has limited financial resources to invest in solutions . The international community has commonly responded with narrowly focused, short term, technical approaches or relatively simplistic aid programs. The absence of a comprehensive strategy or “systems approach” has resulted in a patchwork of well-intended but often poorly coordinated initiatives. While academic institutions in the North (i.e. North America and Europe) have sought opportunities to be helpful, concerns have been raised regarding the focus of their initiatives and misalignments with the priorities of host countries. Funding for such initiatives typically originate outside of the region and while academic institutions in the North have clearly benefited from these opportunities, the value to the host institutions or to health systems in SSA is often much more difficult to determine.