Curricular transformation of health professions education in Tanzania: The process at Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences (2008-2011)

Olipa D. Ngassapa*, Ephata E. Kaaya, Molly V. Fyfe, Eligius F. Lyamuya, Deodatus C. Kakoko, Edmund J. Kayombo, Rodrick R. Kisenge, Helen Loeser, Amos R. Mwakigonja, Anne H. Outwater, Judy Martin-Holland, Kennedy D. Mwambete, Irene Kida, Sarah B. Macfarlane

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Citations (Scopus)


Tanzania requires more health professionals equipped to tackle its serious health challenges. When it became an independent university in 2007, Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences (MUHAS) decided to transform its educational offerings to ensure its students practice competently and contribute to improving population health. In 2008, in collaboration with the University of California San Francisco (UCSF), all MUHAS's schools (dentistry, medicine, nursing, pharmacy, and public health and social sciences) and institutes (traditional medicine and allied health sciences) began a university-wide process to revise curricula. Adopting university-wide committee structures, procedures, and a common schedule, MUHAS faculty set out to: (i) identify specific competencies for students to achieve by graduation (in eight domains, six that are interprofessional, hence consistent across schools); (ii) engage stakeholders to understand adequacies and inadequacies of current curricula; and (iii) restructure and revise curricula introducing competencies. The Tanzania Commission for Universities accredited the curricula in September 2011, and faculty started implementation with first-year students in October 2011. We learned that curricular revision of this magnitude requires: a compelling directive for change, designated leadership, resource mobilization inclusion of all stakeholders, clear guiding principles, an iterative plan linking flexible timetables to phases for curriculum development, engagement in skills training for the cultivation of future leaders, and extensive communication.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)S64-S91
Number of pages28
JournalJournal of Public Health Policy
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2012


  • Health professions education
  • curriculum revision
  • competencies
  • competency-based education
  • Tanzania


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