WHat is afripen?

The Africa Interprofessional Education Network (AfrIPEN) is a consensus-based partnership between various institutions and individuals with the vision to establish interprofessional education and collaborative practice (IPECP) as integral part in training the health workforce and in the effective functioning of systems for health in the Africa region. The mission of AfrIPEN is to advocate for, collaborate on, promote and share good practice of IPECP in the Africa region.

Aims & priorities

AfrIPEN Aims
AfrIPEN aims to:
  1. Recruit and mobilise policy makers, professional bodies, institutional leadership, faculty, service providers, funders and other stakeholders to advance IPECP in Sub-Saharan Africa.
  2. Collaborate in identifying, developing, adapting and sharing IPE resources for the Sub-Saharan African context.
  3. Utilise relevant global, regional and national networks and platforms to create an awareness of and mobilisation around IPE.
  4. Advocate for and facilitate the inclusion of IPECP into scopes of practice of all professions represented in the workforce for health in Sub-Saharan Africa.
  5. Advocate for and facilitate the integration of interprofessional collaborative competencies into health workforce curricula offered by higher education institutions in Sub-Saharan Africa.
  6. Advocate for, promote and facilitate the cultivation of IPECP values and competencies among faculty, preceptors, health and social care workers in Sub-Saharan Africa.
  7. Participate in international networks informing best practice models including, but not limited, to Interprofessional.Global, InterprofessonalResearch.Global, the World Health Organization Regional Office for Africa, AFREhealth, etc.
  8. Conduct collaborative research to inform IPECP in Sub-Saharan Africa.
AfrIPEN Priorities
The following priorities were agreed upon:
  1. Develop AfrIPEN’s organisational capacity and structure
  2. Conduct a survey on what Institutions have available on IPECP and what is needed regarding IPECP
  3. Compile a collection of our IPECP stories from Sub-Saharan Africa.
  4. Produce generic IPECP policies and guidelines that can be adapted by various authorities to promote and endorse IPECP
  5. Create a web-based platform to share IPECP learning and teaching resources
  6. Develop short course for IPECP facilitators
  7. Develop a collaborative research framework and grant application(s) for AfrIPEN
Five Working Groups are collaborating on plans to realise these priorities (see projects).

Partnership development principles

  • Effective Partnerships seek the direction from each other in all they do.

Partners are refreshed and empowered by sharing and caring together for one another’s personal needs as well as for the work.


  • Effective Partnerships have a Facilitator or a Facilitation Team.

Partnership does not just happen. It takes a person or a team of people committed to partnership and acceptable to all the partners. They serve the whole partnership, enabling it to function.

  • Effective Partnerships have a clear Purpose

Only a partnership that is formed to fulfil a specific vision is likely to be effective. Partnership for partnership’s sake spells failure.


  • Effective Partnerships start by identifying Needs before shaping Structure

An effective partnership starts by identifying barriers to progress and from these agree on priorities for action; it doesn’t try to establish conditions for membership or write a common Statement of Incorporation! Function (what the partnership can do) should always come before Form (how the partnership is structured). Consensus is usually better than Constitution.


  • Effective Partnerships have clear, well-defined Objectives

In the early days, objectives will be limited and achievable. However, they must be significant enough to provide motivation for the partnership. As the partnership experiences progress, the objectives that are set become more challenging.


  • Effective Partnerships keep their eyes on the Ultimate Vision

It is easy to focus on the “means” rather than the “end”. An effective partnership keeps focused on the long-term vision and does not get distracted by day-to-day operational demands.

  • Effective Partnerships are built on relationships of trust, openness and mutual concern

Partnership is more than coordination and planning. The heart of the partnership is restored relationships, demonstrated as well as proclaimed. Developing such relationships requires time and intentional effort. Effective partners are especially sensitive towards those from cultures and backgrounds other than their own.


  • Effective Partnerships focus on what the partners have in common rather than on what makes them different

Unity is encouraged by sharing things of the heart like vision, values and common goals. Discussing differences in philosophy, history and work experience divides. However, it is important to acknowledge – even celebrate – these differences from time to time.


  • Effective Partnerships maintain a high level of Participation and Ownership by the Partners

Ownership and commitment to the process are encouraged by wide participation of all the partners in decision-making.


  • Effective Partnerships impart the vision and skills for partnership development to all the partners continuously

It is important for partners to catch the vision for partnership and to develop skills in partnering. This may include training in partnership development on occasions when the partnership meets. An effective partnership expects problems, especially at times of leadership change, and develops processes for managing them.


  • Effective Partnerships do not come Free of Charge

Just participating costs time and money so all partners are investing in some way. Deeper commitment involves an even greater investment, but the benefits more than outweigh these costs.


  • Effective Partners recognise that Partnership is an on-going process, not an event

The early stages of developing a partnership take time. Call a meeting too soon and the process is likely to fail. The development of trust is essential before the potential partners come together. Later, time for nurturing trust and processing issues is equally important. It is even more challenging to maintain a partnership than to launch one.


  • Effective Partners recognise that they have various constituencies whose needs must be acknowledged and whose contributions must be valued

There are more people and interests involved in a partnership than those that sit around the table. The constituencies involved include the leaders and staff of the partner organisations, the supporters of these organisations, the people we are seeking to serve and the partnership itself. Effective partners understand the needs of each of these groups and seek to meet them. They also acknowledge and value the contributions each makes.


  • Effective Partners celebrate

It is important for partners to frequently celebrate the achievements of individual partners and the partnership as a whole.

  • Effective Partners have an ‘Advocate’ for Partnership in their own Organisation

This is a person who sees how their own organisation can benefit from practical cooperation and who will share this vision with their colleagues. Without such a person, the commitment of the organisation to the partnership is likely to be half-hearted at best.


  • Effective Partners have clear identities and visions

Partners who have a strong sense of their own identity and calling are most likely to be effective. If the individual partners do not have a clear vision for their own organisation, they will have difficulty seeing where they can contribute to the overall picture or benefit from the joint effort.

Partnership development principles


The following main activities have been conducted from 2019-2023:

  • A quarterly AfrIPEN newsletter that showcases IPE events in the continent
  • Virtual capacity development activities, in collaboration with the Dirisana+ Project, have featured local and global colleagues who speak about IPE
  • Student IPE learning activities were conducted in collaboration with University of the Western Cape and Afri-VIPE
  • The 3rd and 4th AfrIPEN conferences were successfully hosted through a virtual platform and in Blantyre, Malawi, respectively
  • Increased membership totals membership and potential partnerships across key players and organisations on the African continent
  • Improved our social presence by regularly posting on our Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn profiles

Partnership development principles

AfriPEN’s focus areas for the period 2023–2025 will include:

  • IPECP resource development through the creation of a repository for IPE activities, resources, and artifacts on the AfrIPEN website
  • Student development activities that promote inter-institutional sharing of knowledge
  • Capacity development for staff
  • Engagement and development of policy
  • Communicate with the global IPE community through our media & marketing
  • The establishment of a Malawi University working group



AfrIPEN formed

AfrIPEN was formed in 2015 at the Towards Unity for Health conference in Johannesburg (South Africa) following an exploratory process involving numerous stakeholders.

Working Groups
Workshop & Planning

 In 2016 the AfrIPEN had a strategic planning workshop where our priorities were determined and plans made to address the priorities. Working Groups were formed to collaborate on the various plans.

Collaborative Research Workshop

In 2017 a Collaborative Research Workshop was held in Windhoek (Namibia), attended by representatives from the various member institutions. The workshop was followed by the First Interprofessional Education and Collaborative Practice for Africa conference.

Ideas & Strategies
Second Interprofessional Education and Collaborative Practice for Africa conference

In 2019 the Second Interprofessional Education and Collaborative Practice for Africa conference (Nairobi, Kenya) provided an opportunity for participants to discuss ideas and devise and test strategies to mobilise concerted action to improve health and wellbeing for individuals, families and communities across Africa. The conference was driven by the conviction that concerted action to improve working together will effect change, enhance quality of care, ensure safety, and optimise deployment of human resources on the continent. The conference was a collaboration between the WHO Regional Office for AfricaAfrica Interprofessional Education Network (AfrIPEN), Sigma Theta Tau’s International Tau Lambda at Large Chapter , the WHO-FIC Collaborating Centre for the African region and Amref International University.  

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