President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has urged the West African College of Physicians (WACP) to decentralise post-graduate medical education to increase the number of specialists in the region.
Speaking at the 46th annual general scientific meeting of WACP at the University of Ghana (UG), President Akufo-Addo said medical practitioners trained by the College have been sort for by most advanced countries because of the quality of its products.
President said the quest to decentralise the training of postgraduate doctors was not meant to lower their standards but possibly, train more and expand subspecialty training in more areas such as intensive care.
He said the difficulty of the centralised nature of the training required that doctors moved from the districts and regions to the few teaching hospitals.
Such doctors, according to President Akufo-Addo, had to struggle with accommodation, separation from their families and in some cases, relocation of their whole families.
That, the President indicated, has been a huge dis-service, depriving the regions and districts of trained doctors and specialists which has worsened the already huge disparity in the rural-urban distribution of doctors.
“It is my plea that as you deliberate on these implications, that you faction out ways to decentralize training of medical doctors, not only at the undergraduate level but also at the post-graduate level,” the President added.
To achieve the proposed decentralisation of post-graduate medical education, President Akufo-Addo admonished WACP to take steps to give accreditation to non-traditional teaching hospitals in member countries.
The success of that process, President Akufo-Addo disclosed, rested on the willingness of the college to accredit more facilities outside the conventional teaching hospitals for training.
The pandemic, according to the President, has challenged some establishments to take a critical look at some routines established as norms and urged WACP to “apply the lessons learnt to decentralize post-graduate education.”
Ghana’s Health Minister, Kwaku Agyeman Manu, remarked that COVID-19, though a terrible health crisis, had brought with it some investments to various countries in the region, particularly, Ghana.
He mentioned some of the increased investments in Ghana — just from two laboratories that could do PCR tests (Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research (NMIMR and Kumasi Centre for Collaborative Research, KCCR), the country had increased to about 60 centres currently.
“Today we have built capacity that can allow us to store millions of ultra-low temperature vaccines that come into our country,” Kwaku Agyeman Manu said.
The West African College of Physicians was established in 1976. It is an association of medical specialists in the following disciplines: Community Health, Family Medicine, Internal Medicine, and Laboratory Medicine, made up of its major specialities of Anatomical Pathology, Chemical Pathology, Haematology and Medical Microbiology, Paediatrics and Psychiatry.
Initially, the College operated in five English-speaking West African countries. In recent years, its membership has expanded to include eight French-speaking countries.
The College is organised into faculties, made up of specialists in each of the major disciplines listed above. Currently, there are eight chapters: – Cote d’Ivoire, The Gambia, Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria, The Republic of Benin, Senegal and Sierra Leone.
The objectives of the College are: To promote the professional training of physicians in West Africa, to promote the standards of professional practice, ethics and morals of physicians in West Africa, promote health and healthcare in West Africa.
Other objectives of the College are to determine persons to be designated as specialist physicians after due consideration of their training, qualifications and experience
The College is responsible for postgraduate specialist training of doctors in the five Anglophone West African countries. Its training programmes cover the six specialities listed above. Its sister College, the West African College of Surgeons, is responsible for training in the remaining, surgical-related specialities of Medicine.
The College organises educational and scientific programmes, including an Annual General and Scientific Meeting that rotates through the various member countries.
Extensive collaborations have been developed with equivalent organisations throughout the world, including the Royal Colleges of the United Kingdom, the South African colleges and the American College of Physicians.
Rex Mainoo Yeboah, ISD