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Examining African Contributions to Global Health

Discover the achievements and impact made by African experts in global healthcare.

559 enrolled on this course

People waiting for the return of boats on the Plage des Pêcheurs in Nouakchott, Mauritania. Photo courtesy of Dr Jérôme Chenal. Reproduced in Jérôme Chenal, The West African City: Urban space and models of urban planning (Lausanne: EPFL Press, 2014), 156.

Examining African Contributions to Global Health

559 enrolled on this course

  • 5 weeks

  • 2 hours per week

  • Digital certificate when eligible

  • Intermediate level

Find out more about how to join this course

Diversify your historical perspective by learning about the Global South

The history of science has largely been written from the perspective of the Global North. This has meant that the impact of the Global South has been neglected and undervalued.

This five-week course from the University of Basel will uncover the innovation and excellence that Africa has brought to global health over time.

Use African ingenuity to improve public health worldwide

Africa has been at the forefront of the fight against COVID-19, having contributed 12.8% of the technologies used to respond to the pandemic.

As you will learn in the case studies, many African countries have overcome health challenges using innovative solutions that can benefit the world. You’ll explore theories, financing solutions, and technologies from Africa that can be used to uplift health systems across the world.

Utilise the knowledge exchange of the Global South to inspire innovation

African countries have a wealth of knowledge that the Global North could benefit from.

Using the knowledge from this course, you will be able to identify problems relating to clinical trials and financing in the Global North and learn from innovative approaches in Africa.

You will also learn about examples of knowledge exchange in the Global South and find connections between urban planning and public health that can be used to motivate transformation in global health.

Learn with the experts in African Studies from the University of Basel

The University of Basel has a renowned Centre for African Studies, has one of the few chairs of African History in Europe, and is associated with one of the leading tropical medicine institutes in the world.

The experts are best placed to guide you in your journey, broaden your horizons, and improve your knowledge of the history of African contributions to global health.

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Skip to 0 minutes and 10 seconds Africa has always been a site of medical innovation.

Skip to 0 minutes and 18 seconds Did you know, for instance, that in 2020 Africa contributed 12.8 percent of the innovative technologies used to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic?

Skip to 0 minutes and 31 seconds So, what can we learn from African knowledge and innovation in order to improve health globally? This question is at the heart of our course. To find answers, we need to explore many further questions from different perspectives. Concepts of health-related knowledge and innovation touch on many perspectives that must all be included. Are you interested in investigating knowledge and theory from the Global South? In my own field experience it was been African medical doctors who have told me so much about this field. Would you like to understand how best to build and finance a healthcare system that aims to give all people access to the healthcare that they need?

Skip to 1 minute and 16 seconds Are you interested in discovering examples of knowledge exchange within the Global South and learn more about success stories from Africa? Africa is now also a place for malaria drug discovery and development If your answer to these questions is “yes”, this course is for you. It contains many examples and case studies of challenges met, solutions developed, and answers found. This, then, is a course that learns from Africa and acknowledges what Africa can contribute to Global Health. We are Tanja Hammel from Switzerland, Doris Osei Afriyie from Ghana and the US. Together with our team of scholars based in many different locations we look forward to welcoming you to our course.


  • Week 1

    What are African contributions to global health?

    • Introducing African contributions to global health

      Meet Tanja Hammel and Doris Osei Afriyie and find out how this course works. Discuss how African contributions to global health have often been neglected in the western world and how we can overcome blind spots in our education.

    • The history of global health

      Learn about African history and the definition of global health. Discuss your own experiences with African contributions to global health and how these have been neglected and silenced.

    • Discussing African contributions to global health

      Learn about South African medicinal plants. Assess your learning and development during this week. What were your most important insights? What does “African contributions to global health” mean to you now?

  • Week 2

    African health financing

    • Introducing health financing in Africa

      Get an introduction to health financing in Africa and share your opinion on how health financing relates to African contributions to global health.

    • Universal Health Coverage

      Learn about Universal Health Coverage (UHC) and how health financing can contribute to UHC. Discuss Universal Health Coverage in your own country and assess the new National Health Insurance scheme in Zambia.

    • Raising revenues

      Learn about and evaluate different methods of raising revenues for healthcare in Africa, from labour-tax financing to results-based financing.

    • What other countries can learn

      Complete a quiz on health financing. Watch a summary on Universal Health Coverage and other topics that are important for financing healthcare in Africa. Discuss what other countries can learn from African countries.

  • Week 3

    Learning from drug development in Africa

    • Introducing drug development in Africa

      Learn about drug development in Africa and read about its challenges and pitfalls.

    • Challenges and successes in drug development in Africa

      Learn about the drug development process and the challenges of clinical trials in Africa. Explore drug development for Neglected Tropical Diseases. Discuss a Product Development Partnership approach for high-income countries.

    • Learning from African centres of excellence

      Learn about successful antimalarial drug development in African centres of excellence. Discuss the challenges of eliminating malaria and read how Africa could mitigate drug development costs.

    • Drug developers’ perspectives

      Listen to a podcast on clinical trials conducted in Africa. Reflect on what you have learned about African contributions to drug development.

  • Week 4

    South-South knowledge circulation

    • Introducing South-South knowledge circulation

      Get an introduction to "South-South Knowledge Circulation" and read about the history of Chinese barefoot doctors in Tanzania in the 1960s and 1970s.

    • The work of a historian

      Explore the methods of a medical historian and examine a historical source. Listen to a podcast on the history and methodology of oral history.

    • South-South: The case of Chinese medicine in Tanzania

      Complete a quiz on oral history interviews. Learn about south-south knowledge circulation, with examples such as the Afro-Asian Peoples’ Solidarity Organisation, TCM, and Chinese medical assistance to post-colonial Tanzania.

    • Discussing South-South knowledge circulation

      Discuss the challenges of South-South knowledge exchange mechanisms and the methodologies used by historians.

  • Week 5

    Urban health in Africa

    • Introducing urban health in Africa

      Get an introduction to the topic of urban health in Africa and discuss how African cities are dealing with this issue.

    • Recent history of urban planning in Africa

      Explore urban planning in colonial and post-colonial Africa. Discuss colonial legacies and postcolonial urban planning schemes.

    • Intra-urban health disparities

      Find out how inequitable spatial development and living in so-called “slums” has an impact on public health. Learn about Participatory Geographic Information Systems and their importance in gathering data on informal settlements.

    • Urban-rural linkages and public health

      Discover how public health is connected to rural exodus and urban agriculture in African cities. Get an introduction to methods for acquiring data on urban agriculture.

    • Recap and farewell

      Discuss your own perspective on urban health. Lead educators Tanja Hammel and Doris Osei Afriyie congratulate you on finishing this course and say goodbye.

When would you like to start?

Start straight away and join a global classroom of learners. If the course hasn’t started yet you’ll see the future date listed below.

  • Available now

Learning on this course

On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Investigate the history of global health as well as knowledge and theory from the Global South, particularly from Africa. Discuss how it has been neglected in Northern academia.
  • Explore African health financing through concrete examples such as Universal Health Coverage and Results-Based Financing.
  • Compare the challenges of drug development and R&D costs estimation in the Global North and South.
  • Investigate South-South knowledge circulation and Chinese medical assistance in Tanzania. Explore how historians conduct their research.
  • Identify the interdependence between environmental factors and people’s health in African cities. Assess the ways in which the recent history of urban planning in Africa impacts public health. Delve into urban health and urban agriculture.

Who is the course for?

This course is suited to public health professionals as well as students and scholars of global health and African Studies.

It’s also helpful to those interested in history, urbanism, public health, health economics, drug development, and Africa.

Who will you learn with?

I'm a historian of knowledge and science currently working on the global history of an antimalarial drug.

I am a public health scientist pursing my PhD at the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute/University of Basel. My research interests are producing evidence to improve health system goals

Senior specialist in clinical and implementation research for medicines against poverty related diseases.

Eric is MD specialised in Tropical Medicine and clinical research from Burkina Faso. His research focus on clinical trials efficiency improvement through innovative approaches.

Akuto Akpedze Konou is a young woman licensed architect and urban planner from Togo, Africa who is currently a PhD candidate and teaching assistant at EPFL, working on Urban Agriculture and Health.

Vitor is a Swiss-Brazilian architect with a particular interest in the interaction between spatial planning and social development.

Associate Professor of Epidemiology and Household Economics, Uni Basel

Head of Household Economics and Health Systems Research Unit, Swiss TPH

Lecturer and Researcher, Department of History, University of Dar es Salaam. Areas of research: Medical History, Medical Diplomacy, China-Africa Relations.

Who developed the course?

University of Basel

The University of Basel has an international reputation of outstanding achievements in research and teaching.

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Choose the best way to learn for you!

Subscribe & save


Automatically renews

Develop skills to further your career

  • Access to this course
  • Access to 1,000+ courses
  • Learn at your own pace
  • Discuss your learning in comments
  • Digital certificate when you're eligible

Cancel for free anytime

Buy this course

$134/one-off payment

Fulfill your current learning need

  • Access to this course
  • Learn at your own pace
  • Discuss your learning in comments
  • Printed and digital certificate when you’re eligible

Limited access


Sample the course materials

  • Access expires 25 May 2024

Find out more about certificates, Unlimited or buying a course (Upgrades)

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