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Examining African Contributions to Global Health

Examining African Contributions to Global Health

Updated September 2022

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 course uncovers 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, to broaden your horizons, and to improve your knowledge of the history of African contributions to global health.

Work at your own pace through the course

Note that this course is also published by the University of Basel on FutureLearn. Adapting the course to the format you are seeing meant that we had to change certain aspects. However, there are still traces of the other format in it.

FutureLearn is a global platform offering free online courses that profit from social learning. This means that the original course encouraged discussions between the learners. Unfortunately, this is not possible in this new format - which, on the other hand, has other advantages, for instance that the course content is freely accessible at all times. On FutureLearn, courses are organised in weeks while in the new format we prefer to offer courses in chapters.

We adapted the structure and replaced the discussions by other step types, where this was possible. However, we did not delete the mention of “weeks” or the invitations to “comment and discuss” from the videos as this would have meant that we would need to record certain materials again. So please do not get confused if the educators talk about “weeks” or invite you to “discuss” something in the comments section.

Throughout the course, we invite you to consider questions or review the content. We recommend that you write down the results of these reviews and the answers to the questions from the beginning. This way you can keep track of how your knowledge changes. And should you be able to participate in one of the authors’ face-to-face courses, you can thus refer back to your answers and thoughts and discuss them with your peers.


Günther Fink

Associate Professor of Epidemiology and Household Economics, Uni Basel

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

Tanja Hammel

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

Doris Osei Afriyie

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.

Christian Burri

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

Eric Nébié

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 Konou

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 Pessoa Colombo

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

Andrea Azizi Kifyasi

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