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.

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.

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).


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

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. Join a Working Group.

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.

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 is 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 is 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.  

Partnership development principles followed by AfrIPEN

Partnership comes straight from the heart of interprofessionalism. Working in partnership reflects the unity we see in working with, for and between service providers and service users. Partnership is one important way in which the unity of a bio-psycho-social-spiritual approach is demonstrated to the world. The following principles have been observed to be important in the development of effective partnerships and they are wholly consistent with Interprofessional Education and Collaborative Practice. AfrIPEN follows the following 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 Working

  • 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

  • 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.