The Global Strategy for Health Workforce 2030 (WHO, 2016) outlines a set of milestones and strategies to expand and strengthen the health workforce that could better position countries to achieve universal health coverage and relevant sustainable development goals (SDGs). The Strategy underscores a need to counter the global shortage of health workers (expected to be 17 million by 2030) and ensure the workforce is appropriately trained to address the evolving health needs of the population. This training would ideally produce health professionals who are responsive to the population, socially accountable, both person- and population-centered, and supportive of empowered and engaged communities. Community-engaged health professional education is a mechanism for learning how to work in and with communities while obtaining the attributes just listed. Developing socially accountable individuals and institutions within a health system is key to improving the health and well-being of present and future societies.
Health professional schools with a commitment to social accountability are distinguished by their “obligation to direct their education, research, and service activities toward addressing the priority health concerns of communities, region, and /or nation they have a mandate to serve.” What has become evident is the lack of published literature analyzing learning taking place in and with communities that has a demonstrated value to that community.