The increasing globalisation of medicine, as manifested in the migration rate of medical doctors and in the growth of cross-border education providers, has inflicted a wave of quality assurance efforts in medical education, and underlined the need for definition of standards and for introduction of effective and transparent accreditation systems. In 2004, reflecting the importance of the interface between medical education and the healthcare delivery sector, a World Health Organization (WHO)/World Federation for Medical Education (WFME) Strategic Partnership to improve medical education was formed. In 2005, the partnership published Guidelines for Accreditation of Basic Medical Education. The WHO/WFME Guidelines recommend the establishment of proper accreditation systems that are effective, independent, transparent and based on medical education-specific criteria. An important prerequisite for this development was the WFME Global Standards programme, initiated in 1997 and widely endorsed. The standards are now being used in all 6 WHO/WFME regions as a basis for quality improvement of medical education throughout its continuum and as a template for national and regional accreditation standards. Promotion of national accreditation systems will have a pivotal influence on future international appraisal of medical education. Information about accreditation status – the agencies involved and the criteria and procedure used – will be an essential component of new Global Directories of Health Professions Educational Institutions. According to an agreement between the WHO and the University of Copenhagen (UC), these Directories (the Avicenna Directories) will be developed and published by the UC with the assistance of the WFME, starting with renewal of the WHO World Directory of Medical Schools, and sequentially expanding to cover educational institutions for other health professions. The Directories will be a foundation for international meta-recognition (“accrediting the accreditors”) of educational institutions and their programmes.
There is an increasing need for international quality assurance of medical education. However, there are no present mechanisms for international recognition of medical educational institutions and programmes.
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