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Course Director Professor Alex Harding is also an advisor to the WHO

New course aims to share Exeter’s world-leading primary care expertise globally

Exeter’s excellence in primary care will help upskill practitioners across the globe, in a new course that aims to make a meaningful impact in communities worldwide.

In the UK, the NHS network of GP practices and access to nurses is the first point of contact for anyone with health issues – but this primary care infrastructure is lacking in many other parts of the world.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has increasingly highlighted the importance of primary care as the most cost-effective way of improving health, but the availability of primary care training and continuing development remains beyond the reach of many practitioners.

Now, the University of Exeter’s new Principles of Primary Care International Continued Professional Development Course will upskill practitioners, analysists and policymakers worldwide. As well as sharing best practice around the principles of good primary care, the course includes support to design and implement a project that can improve primary care provision in their area.

Course Director Professor Alex Harding, an advisor to the WHO, said: “We’re really excited to launch this new programme and share our world-leading expertise in primary care. COVID-19 has highlighted the importance of primary care in delivering effective healthcare. Testing, vaccination, caring for people in their homes, aftercare of those hospitalised and helping families who have lost loved ones - are all services delivered by primary care and cornerstones of global solutions to health crises.

“As well as improving skills and developing a project which could have real impact in their communities, our students will become part of an international network of alumni to share best practice, and continue improving primary care worldwide.”

The University of Exeter hosts the Exeter Collaboration for Academic Primary Care (Apex). Students will be taught by world-leaders in the field of primary care, many of whom advise WHO on best practice.

The course’s first intake has already attracted health practitioners from Africa, North America, Asia and Europe, many of whom have been supported through a philanthropic scholarship fund established at the University of Exeter.

Dr Adam Bitunguramye, a GP at Munini Hospital, Republic of Rwanda is among those to have signed up. He said: “I want to acquire more knowledge and skills, to be able to improve the health of the population, especially in the remote area of Rwanda where infrastructure usually hinders the effective delivery of primary care services.”

Dr Bitunguramye said poor antenatal care was a particular issue that contributes to increased deaths among mothers. “The majority of these deaths are preventable, and might be linked to inadequate antenatal care. Upon completing this module, I will be in the position to undertake research on how to increase antenatal care, especially in the rural community.”

The course is expected to be delivered every six months. To find out more, visit the website.

Date: 18 January 2021

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