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The Yale-Sudan Program for Research Leadership in Public Health

Fostering Mentorship, Building Effective Teams, and Supporting Scientific Writin

GHLI in Sudan

Yale-Sudan Program for Research Leadership in Public Health

Strengthening public health training has been identified as a priority by Sudan’s Ministers of Health and Higher Education. In response, Yale has developed a robust partnership network with five of Sudan’s leading educational institutions: Ahfad University for Women, University of Gezira, University of Khartoum, Neelain University, and the Public Health Institute of Sudan. This network is being developed at a critical and opportune time of peace and national reconciliation in Sudan. Further, intentional partnership with a leading all-women university in Sudan (Ahfad University for Women) provides the opportunity to prioritize and prepare a cadre of female public health professionals that will contribute to and advance the health and gender equity agenda.

In each of the partner organizations, junior faculty have been identified as critical to the strengthening of public health training institutions. These rising stars represent the future of public health scholarship in Sudan and will be responsible for advancing science and providing education for future generations. While the specific profiles of these junior faculty vary across institutions, they generally have heavy teaching loads, mentorship and supervisory responsibilities for students and postgraduate researchers, and are working to establish funded research portfolios with little formal mentorship or support. Levels of burnout and turnover are high, and immediate support to this level of faculty is required.

Therefore, with grant funding from the US Embassy in Sudan and a Hecht Award from the Yale School of Public Health, the partners have developed The Yale-Sudan Program for Research Leadership in Public Health.

The goal of this program is to foster a network of junior and mid-level faculty with the ability to (1) assume leadership roles within their institutions; (2) serve as more effective mentors to their trainees; and (3) influence scholarship and practice through scientific writing. In addition to building individual capacities, we include design features to (1) foster collaboration between partner institutions in Sudan to capture synergies and leverage the resources of each institution and (2) promote alignment within each institution so that the junior faculty that are at the heart of this program are also well supported by their own mentors.

The program includes a 12-week certificate program followed by a 4-month scientific writing collaborative. We have adapted the program to be a fully-virtual collaboration in the context of COVID-19, using a blended learning model that includes asynchronous content on essential capacities and practices, synchronous sessions to foster understanding and integration, and individual- and team-based assignments to reinforce learning and foster systems change. Our approach builds on Yale’s experiences in designing and delivering a similar training program in South Africa with faculty and researchers from the University of the Witwatersrand School of Public Health and The Aurum Institute, as well as over a decade of GHLI experience in delivery of high-quality leadership and workforce capacity development programs across country settings, tailored to the priorities and implementation contexts of the Sudanese partners and participants. The resulting curriculum, including design and specific teaching, learning, and assessment materials, will be accessible by participants and other faculty for replication and adaptation in pursuit of a stronger public health workforce in Sudan.