New type of health professional

There is an international trend to create a new type of health professional to provide front line diagnostic and therapeutic care. Such clinicians are called Physician Assistants in the US, and Clinical Assistants in Africa, but there are many synonyms for this job. The motivations for creating this professional grade vary, but, in essence, the post has been designed make good a shortfall in medical manpower at lower unit cost. From a low-income country perspective such posts have the advantage that certification is not internationally recognised, thereby mitigating a potential ‘brain drain’.

A CLAHRC ambition is to study the role of such personnel, with special reference to continuing education, support and specialisation, and to measuring impact and safety. We would be interested to hear from other people who are undertaking similar work.

–Richard Lilford, Director of CLAHRC WM