CHEPSAA’s Emerging Leaders Programme: important capacity-building initiative takes off

EL group

Twenty-six professionals, mostly educators and researchers, from five African countries will this week gather in Cape Town, South Africa for the launch of the Emerging Leaders Programme of the Consortium for Health Policy and Systems Analysis in Africa (CHEPSAA).


The Emerging Leaders Programme is a unique initiative that seeks to contribute to the goal of building a critical mass of future leaders in the field of health policy and systems research and analysis (HPSR+A) who are committed to working in this field in Africa and equipped with the necessary skills and capabilities. 

HPSR+A is an emerging field, the value of which is increasingly being recognised. However, African capacity to conduct and use HPSR+A is very limited. Challenges include relatively little funding for research in this field, few African scientists working in this area, the limited availability of relevant training programmes in African universities and policy-makers who are often unaware of relevant research.

The Emerging Leaders Programme will begin with a capacity-building workshop this week (1-7 July 2013). This will be followed by a period of peer support, which will lead into a second capacity-building workshop in mid-2014. The programme will culminate in a third and final event linked to the 3rd Global Symposium on Health Systems Research taking place in Cape Town in September 2014, where the participants will put into practice some of the core capabilities developed over the course of the programme.

For this first week of the programme, the participants have been asked to identify a health policy and systems research or leadership issue that they would like to work on during the week and beyond, with the intention of supporting them both to conceptualise the issue that concerns them and to plan for addressing that issue in future. In addition to this, they will participate in various facilitated sessions seeking, among other things, to build their leadership capabilities and strengthen their leadership practices, improve their communication skills, and strengthen their project and time management skills.

Over the past year or so, CHEPSAA has, through a collaborative and consultative process, developed a set of core capabilities that it believes educators, researchers and analysts in the field of HPSR+A require to grow and be successful in the field. These have been organised into the themes (with more specific skills captured under each theme) of personal skills, writing skills, project management skills, networking skills, understanding and knowledge of HPSR+A, understanding of the health system, teaching skills, and research skills. These core capabilities underpin the design and activities of the Emerging Leaders Programme and the goal is to use the programme to realise them progressively over time according to the needs, strengths and weaknesses of each participant.

Using a screening process that collected information on issues such as work experiences, interests and career goals, the initial group of programme participants were selected from the CHEPSAA partner organisations in Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania and South Africa, as well as a broader group of nominees from organisations working closely with the CHEPSAA partners. In addition, a limited number of participants from other academic and research organisations and NGOs will also participate.

CHEPSAA is a European Union-funded consortium of African and European universities which seeks to increase African capacity to produce and use high-quality HPSR+A. In addition to CHEPSAA’s own funding, this programme is also supported by a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation.