Yale News

Yale is continuing to expand its partnerships on the African continent.

The Yale Africa Initiative — created by University president Peter Salovey in 2013 — aims to increase the University’s ties in the region. The initiative seeks to leverage Africa’s growing influence on the global economy through approaches like partnerships with African universities — some of whose students go on to study at Yale. 

As part of the initiative, the Yale Divinity School has increased its focus on educational and theological partnerships in Africa, while the Yale Institute for Global Health is nurturing partnerships to improve healthcare outcomes on the continent.

“One of our new initiatives is to make a serious effort to create a greater global presence at the Divinity School,” Divinity School Dean Gregory Sterling wrote in an email to the News. “We need to have more representatives from Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa, and Latin America. The same is true for students.”

Sterling cited the rapidly growing Christian population in sub-Saharan Africa for the Divinity School’s interest in fostering stronger ties there. In 2010, 24 percent of the world’s Christians lived there, a figure estimated to rise to 38 percent by 2050. 

At the University of Ghana, the Divinity School helped found the Sanneh Institute, focused on interreligious scholarship and investigating socio-religious issues. The institute was named after the late Lamin Sanneh, former professor of missions and world christianity at the Divinity School. 

The Divinity School offers scholarships to African students so they can attend Yale. While the scholarships were previously placed on hold due to the pandemic, this has since changed.

According to Sterling, the Divinity School is now able to offer full tuition scholarships and some additional assistance to scholarship recipients, but it is still “not enough for them to live in New Haven.”

Sterling added that the Divinity School plans to “raise new endowments and increase the annual fund which goes entirely to financial aid” to ensure students can afford the costs of attending Yale and living in New Haven.

Outside of theology, the University has continued expanding its ties with African public health institutions. Michael Skonieczny, the deputy director for the Yale Institute for Global Health, wrote that the institute’s Hecht Global Health Faculty Network Award and Global Health Spark Award have helped “catalyze new research and programmatic efforts in global health.” 

These resources have supported research and programs related to pediatric surgery training in Uganda, community health in Ghana, and spurred “the development of a low-cost breathing device for premature infants,” Skonieczny wrote.

The global situation has changed significantly since 2020, including a supply chain crisis adversely affecting healthcare outcomes in Africa and a surge in food insecurity and disease there. Skonieczny said that in response, the Yale Institute for Global Health is “nurtur[ing] and support[ing] faculty networks to address issues like planetary health and non-communicable diseases.” These efforts are critical in protecting the scientific community’s disease prevention efforts, which were in part undone by the pandemic.

In 2020, the News noted that the Yale Institute for Global Health had a strong relationship with Ugandan health authorities, who are currently battling an Ebola outbreak. Tracy Rabin, who co-directs the Makerere University-Yale University collaboration, told the News that MUYU has trained 28 physicians and two nurse educators in various fields, all of whom have returned to Uganda where they contribute to patient care and trainee education.

Regarding the effects of Yale’s MUYU collaboration and its training efforts in Uganda, Rabin shared that most trainees go on to work in the public sector, “engaging in direct patient care as well as education and research.”

Rabin noted that Yale’s efforts in addressing the recent Ebola outbreak are on a small scale. For instance, MUYU is currently working with colleagues at the Yale University Library and the Makerere University Library to “facilitate the development and translation of community-facing, culturally responsive Ebola FAQs into local languages.”

Rabin’s hope is that this can educate communities about disease and prevention efforts to help stymie the outbreak and future occurrences of the virus.

Janette Yarwood became the Yale Office of International Affairs’ director for Africa and the Middle East, where her work involves supporting the Yale Africa Initiative, on June 27.