The Best Medical Universities In Africa (All Metrics)

Looking at the title “best medical universities in Africa” one may get the impression that the article highlights strictly medical studies institutions on the continent. That is not the case. This article is designed to highlight universities across the continent which have established themselves as the best in medical training.

This attempt to rank Africa’s best medical universities takes into account such factors as the age of the universities, and the renown they have each gained over the years. Special attention is paid to the notable alumni; who have contributed to medical science in one way or another.

A great medical university should not just convey properly the old ways of treating illnesses; it should also lead efforts in discovering new insights in public health, as well as prevention of illnesses.

The Best Medical Universities In Africa

1.   University Of The Witwatersrand

Location: Johannesburg

Pedigree: Excellent

Notable Alumni Excellent

The University of the Witwatersrand, also known as the University of Wits, or Wits University, was founded in 1896. It is an old, well established, and prestigious place of learning. The University of Wits’ Faculty of Health Sciences was established in 1922; and has contributed greatly to the study and practice of medicine in South Africa.

The University Of The Witwatersrand is a great place to study medicine; it offers comprehensive medical education, and has a strong culture of research and excellence.

Notable Alumni:

As a testament to the sheer quality of this institution; the University Of the Witwatersrand has produced a long list of notable medical professionals, some of whom are: 

Sydney Brenner (BSc, BSc Hons, honorary DSc), winner of the 2002 Nobel Prize in Medicine.

Sir Aaron Klug (BSc, honorary DSc), winner of 1982 Nobel Prize in Chemistry

Joseph Sonnabend, physician, scientist and HIV/AIDS researcher. He was the key figure in promoting pioneering community-based research, and the practice of safe sex to combat the spread of infection.

Priscilla Kincaid-Smith, who is hailed as “the mother of nephrology.” She was appointed Commander of The Order of the British Empire (Civil) in 1975, in recognition of her services to medicine. She achieved further distinction as a Companion of the Order of Australia; she later became the first woman to become President of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians (1986–1988). She later won the Australian Achiever Award in 1997 for a lifetime’s work in renal health.

2.   University Of Cape Town (UCT)

Location: Cape Town, South Africa

Pedigree: Excellent

Notable Alumni: Great

The University of Cape Town is the oldest university in South Africa; it was established in 1829 as South African College. This is one of the most respected institutions of learning in South Africa, and the whole continent as well. The institution has about 22,000 students every year, and receives at least 3 times that number in applications.

The Faculty of Health Sciences at the UCT was established in 1912. It is reputed to be a great place to study medicine, as well as to go for in-depth scientific research.

Notable Alumni:  

To prove its mettle as one of the best medical universities in Africa, UCT has produced several notable individuals such as:

Professor Christiaan Barnard; he performed the world’s first heart transplant. It was done at Groote Schuur Hospital.

Max Theiler; he was a renown virologist who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1951. He received the award for developing a vaccine against yellow fever.

3.   Stellenbosch University

Location:South Africa

Pedigree: Excellent

Notable Alumni: Great

Stellenbosch University was established in 1918. This is perhaps Africa’s best university for the development of technology; this institution designed and produced Africa’s first satellite; which was launched in 1999. It is a public research university, located in the Western Cape province of South Africa.

Notable Alumni:

Stellenbosch University has produced several important medical professionals such as:

Taryn Young, physician and epidemiologist, who is the Director of the Centre for Evidence-based Health Care; and also Head of the Division of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at Stellenbosch University. Taryn Young is also a member of the Academy of Science of South Africa. She has written or co written over 100 peer-reviewed articles.

James Leonard Brierley Smith; an ichthyologist, organic chemist and university professor. He was the first to identify a taxidermied fish as a coelacanth. The species was thought to be long extinct.

4.   Pretoria University (UP)

Location: South Africa

Pedigree: Excellent

Notable Alumni:

The University of Pretoria was established in 1908 as a small school for 32 students in a single late Victorian house. Today, it is one of South Africa’s most respected institutions, with more than 53,000 students. Its’ Faculty of Health Sciences was established in 1943, and is ranked as one of the top 5 in South Africa.

Members of Faculty of the University of Pretoria have been in the forefront in fighting against race based quota systems governing acceptance to the Faculty of Health Sciences.

Notable Alumni:

5.   University Of Ghana

Location: Accra, Ghana

Pedigree: Excellent

Notable Alumni: Great

The University of Ghana was established in 1948; it was at that time an affiliate College of the University of London. Over the years this institution into the most respected in Ghana; currently with a student population of 30, 000 students.

The University of Ghana’s Faculty of Medicine includes;  School of Medicine and Dentistry, School of Nursing, School of Biomedical and Allied Health Sciences.

Notable Alumni: Great

Some of the notable products of the University of Ghana’s Faculty of Medicine include;

Hutton Ayikwei Addy; he is a Professor of Public Health, and also the first Dean of the University for Development Studies Medical School.

Dr. Isaac Odame is a professor at the University of Toronto, as well as a medical researcher in Sickle Cell Disease, as well as other disorders of the blood.

Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng; is a Cardiothoracic surgeon who was the former chief executive officer of the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital. He is also the first black African to perform a heart transplant. Dr Boateng established the National Cardiothoracic Centre; and he has been the Minister for Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation (of Ghana).

6.   Makerere University

Location:  Kampala, Uganda

Notable Alunmi: Great

Makerere University is Uganda’s oldest and most prestigious university; its history dates back to 1922, and then it became known as University College, (under the University College of London) in 1949, and then it became Makerere University; a fully independent university in 1970.

Makerere University’s faculty of Medicine is largely accepted as one of the best in the country.

Notable Alumni:

Charles Olweny; an Oncologist, academic, and medical researcher. He was formerly a professor of medicine at Makerere University Medical School and also director of the Uganda Cancer Institute. He was also the Vice chancellor of Uganda Martyrs University.

Gilbert Bukenya; is a Doctor. He was also a professor of public health, politician, and farmer. He was formerly the vice president of Uganda from 2003–2011.

7.   University Of Ibadan (UI)

Location: Nigeria

Notable Alumni

The University of Ibadan; popularly known as UI, was established in 1948. It is the most respected institution of learning in Nigeria; having produced the country’s leading Authors, Academics, Politicians, Thinkers and Personalities in the Arts.

The University of Ibadan is a great place to study medicine; its Faculty of Medicine is made of; Basic Medical Sciences, Clinical Sciences, as well as Public Health and Dentistry.

The university has other research arms including; Institute of Child Health, Centre for Drug Discovery, Development & Production (CDDDP), Centre for Child Adolescent and Mental Health, Institute for Advanced Medical Research and Training (IAMRAT), and Centre for Control & Prevention of Zoonosis (CCPZ).

Notable Alumni:

8.   Ain Shams University

Location: Egypt

Pedigree: Excellent

Notable Alumni:

Ain Shams University was established in 1950. This is one of the most prestigious universities in Egypt and the Arab World. This is a public research institution that has more than 189,822 students, not counting postgraduates and researchers.

Ain Shams University has around 6,000 medical students, and has contributed to the public health development in Egypt. This university holds a yearly medical conference where leading researchers come together to share ideas. This is regarded as Egypt’s biggest medical seminar.

Notable Alumni:

Ahmed Okasha; he is an Egyptian psychiatrist, academic, and author. He has written books and articles about his discoveries in psychiatry and mental disorders. He is the first Arab-Muslim to be become president of World Psychiatric Association; he held the position between 2002 to 2005.

9.   Cairo University (CU)

Location: Giza Egypt

Pedigree: Excellent

Notable Alumni: Good

Cairo University was established in 1908. This is a great place of learning; it has made immense contributions to Egyptian society. Cairo University has 231,584 students, and an Administrative staff strength of 12,158, making it a viable academic community on its own.

The Faculty of Medicine at Cairo University was established in 1827, and has produced thousands of capable medical professionals over the years.

Some Notable medical practitioners who were trained at Cairo University include;

Magdi Yacoub, he is a professor of cardiothoracic surgery at Imperial College London.

10.   Mansoura University

Location: Cairo Egypt

Notable Alumni:

Mansoura University was established in 1972. Before attaining full university status it was a college under the Cairo University, which is why it already had a Faculty of Medicine before establishment. It is located in the middle of the Nile Delta, and is known as a major center for culture and science in Egypt.

The Faculty of Medicine at the Mansoura University has partnerships with top private medical institutions in the country to ensure excellent practical work so as to produce excellent medical professionals.

Notable Alumni:


Naturally, it takes time and consistency to be ranked among the best medical universities in Africa. It is no surprise that South African institutions have topped this list; the biggest and most notable contributors to medical science from Africa have come from this country.  

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