J. P. Van Niekerk
Academic Medicine, 1999
"Independence of African countries from colonial powers began in the mid-1950s. These countries placed great store on educational development, and consequently the number of medical schools mushroomed. Whereas there were six medical schools on the African continent before World War II, there are now 94, of which 61 have been established since 1970. Poverty, war, and mismanagement led to declining gross national products of most African countries during the 1970s and 1980s. In this setting, many medical schools struggled with declining standards or even for survival, and loftier issues such as defining their missions and social responsibilities were hardly considered. The African Regional Conference on Medical Education, in which the World Health Organization was a key partner, was held in Cape Town in 1995. This conference outlined how medical education can contribute to the health care system and thus supplied a model for medical schools in Africa. In South Africa, the unique social revolution has required substantial changes in the missions and perceived social responsibilities of medical schools. Political and economic changes in Africa in the 1990s seem to justify cautious optimism regarding the future of the continent."